UNWTO launches start-up competition in sports tourism sector
June 14 2019 10:19 PM

* Initiative supported by QNTC

The World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), in collaboration with Barca Innovation Hub (BIHUB) and with support from 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 in the near future, UNWTO said in a press statement Friday.
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 statement notes.
The first UNWTO Sports Tourism Start-up Competition 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, Spain, to pitch their ideas to sports experts, government representatives, tourism business leaders and international investors. “We are pleased to be partnering with the Barca Innovation Hub to harness the potential of sports tourism to stimulate creativity, innovation and sustainable growth. 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. We thank BIHUB for their vision and collaboration and, as we move towards the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, we thank the QNTC for their support for this exciting project,” said UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili as he opened the competition.
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 in 2022. HE Akbar al-Baker, secretary-general of QNTC, noted: “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. We look forward to seeing the innovative ideas that will come through the inaugural Sports Tourism Start-Up Competition and hope that one of them will come to life in Qatar.”
Marta Plana, director of BIHUB, added: “We are very pleased to work together with UNWTO to develop tourism in relation to the sports industry, a growing sector, and identify companies with the talents to help achieve this. Barcelona is a city linked to design and innovation, and a tourism hub. "At BIHUB, we want to make Barcelona the Silicon Valley of the sports industry and to use our experience as a tourist attraction, with the FC Barcelona museum the most visited in the Catalan region and more than 4mn people visiting our ground every year.”
Full information on the terms and conditions are available at www.unwto-barcainnovationhub-challenge.org

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