Booking.com, the global leader in connecting travellers with the widest choice of incredible places to stay, announced the award recipients of its first accelerator programme for start-ups in sustainable tourism, Booking.com Booster.
Launched earlier this year, the Booking.com Booster Programme was created to identify, mentor and fund promising startups dedicated to sustainable tourism in one of the following areas: protecting the environment, preserving cultural heritage and/or promoting inclusive growth in tourism that supports local economies and communities. After three weeks of workshops and intensive coaching, the 10 teams of finalists pitched their scaling plans to a live audience and panel of expert judges in Amsterdam, with Backstreet Academy being awarded this year’s top grant of €400,000 for their proposed scaling plans.
Backstreet Academy wants to bring their peer-to-peer travel platform to more communities throughout Southeast Asia and around the world, empowering them with tools to connect directly to the tourism industry, become micro-entrepreneurs and ultimately move themselves out of poverty.
“The ambitious creativity and innovative ideas we’ve seen from all of the startups who joined our Booking.com Booster Programme this year were truly inspiring,” said Gillian Tans, CEO of Booking.com. “I was particularly impressed with the entrepreneurial vision they all demonstrated in approaching a wide array of different challenges related to sustainable tourism. I’m really looking forward to seeing their plans unfold as these amazing companies continue to bring their vision for a more sustainable future for the global tourism industry to even more destinations worldwide.”
“Being a part of Booking.com Booster has been amazing,” said Jamon Mok Zixuan, CEO and Co-Founder of Backstreet Academy. “We are so excited to apply what we’ve learned to further scale the impact of our business, accelerating poverty alleviation and the rejuvenation of intangible UNESCO heritage everywhere. We want to bring the concept of impact travel mainstream and implement it globally with the help of the Booking.com network.”
The other sustainable tourism startups that are being awarded grants from the 2017 Booking.com Booster Programme are Seabin (Australia & Spain) for €350k; Local Alike (Thailand) for €300k; Good Hotel (Guatemala and the UK) for €300k; Awake (Colombia) for €300k; Authenticook (India) for €200k; and Desolenator (UK and the Netherlands) for €150k.
In addition, Seabin was voted employee favourite, following their 30-second “bike pitch” to the company, and awarded €10k worth of Booking.com credits to use on future stays.
Although MovingWorlds (Global), MEJDI Tours (Middle East and Europe) and Visit.org (Global) did not receive scaling grants, as with the other startups who participated in the accelerator programme, they will receive ongoing mentorship and support from Booking.com.
In 2017, nearly 700 startups with teams from 102 nationalities applied to join the programme.