UNWTO launches start-up competition in sports tourism sector

The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in collaboration with Barça Innovation Hub (BIHUB) and with the support of the Qatar National Tourism Council (QNTC), has announced the launch of the first UNWTO Sports Tourism Start-up Competition. The initiative is designed to identify projects and innovations that can transform the sports tourism sector.

Increasing demand from tourists and the growing influence of sports on destinations’ popularity have combined to make sports tourism one of the segments with the greatest potential for socioeconomic development opportunities, attracting growing levels of government interest. The first UNWTO Sports Tourism Start-up Competition, launched by UNWTO and BIHUB, with the support of QNTC, is looking for start-ups with disruptive ideas focused on solving real needs and addressing knowledge gaps in the growing sports tourism sector.

In all, 20 start-ups will be shortlisted by a panel of international experts and sports and tourism stakeholders, drawn from the public and private sectors, academia and civil society. The shortlisted start-ups will be announced on the competition’s website. The panel will then select five semi-finalists who will all be invited to Barcelona to pitch their ideas to sports experts, government representatives, tourism business leaders and international investors.

As he opened the competition, Zurab Pololikashvili, secretary-general, UNWTO said, “Through this competition, start-ups with disruptive visions can propose new ideas that will allow the sports tourism sector to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals.” As part of the partnership with QNTC, the winning ideas will also be considered for implementation in Qatar, which is gearing up to host the FIFA World Cup 2022.

Akbar Al Baker, secretary general, QNTC commented, “At QNTC we believe sporting events have a unique power to bring people of the world together, and that is also why sports tourism is a key focus area in our tourism vision.”

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