IDB announces results of its Beyond Tourism Innovation Challenge

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WASHINGTON, USA – The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), through its innovation laboratory, IDB Lab, and in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), is pleased to announce that eight proposals were selected for project design under the Beyond Tourism Challenge . The applications were from Barbados, Belize, Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Haiti, Guyana, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago.

The Beyond Tourism Challenge was launched last June and closed for applicants on July 31, seeking to stimulate reimagining the sector post-COVID, while embracing digital transformation. The challenge looked to identify innovations in two categories: development of the tourism workforce, in need of acquiring new digital skills for the recovery phase post-COVID; and environmental sustainability, to implement clean technologies and circular economy models, climate-smart agricultural practices, and protection of natural habitats.

The challenge attracted public and private sector candidates from around the world to implement projects in the 15 target countries: Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

A full 214 applications were submitted from organizations in 28 countries, with proposals ranging from waste management and safety protocols to preservation of natural capital and eco-tourism.  Evaluation criteria included the degree of innovation, the degree of social and environmental impact, its scalability potential, financial sustainability, and viability of execution.  An internal due diligence process to evaluate the capacity of the applicant entities was conducted by IDB Group specialists, and the UNWTO also provided its technical expertise during the evaluation process.

Selected applicants will initiate project design towards being considered for IDB Lab financing to pilot their innovative models in the eight mentioned countries. These selected applicants will become part of IDB Group’s network of global innovators working in the region to reinvent the tourism industry and support its recovery efforts.

Below are brief descriptions of the selected proposals:

Barbados – “Better Batteries” an energy-as-a-service model to accelerate the hotel industry´s access to renewable energy, utilizing a battery storage solution with an IoT framework enabling external control and data analytics. Applicant:  Aceleron

Belize – “Belizing Tourism Innovation Lab” a virtual marketplace to enhance workforce development with an artificial intelligence-driven recommendation engine. Applicant: Lets Go Belizing Ltd.

Costa Rica – “INTO Experiential Camps & Lodges” a platform to bring together social ecotourism with land and marine conservation towards regenerative interaction with nature and oneself. Applicant: INTO Hospitality S.A.

Dominican Republic – “Green Fins Hub – Digital scaling for sustainable marine tourism” the first-of-its-kind online platform to empower marine tourism businesses to measurably improve compliance with internationally recognized environmental standards, safeguard biodiversity, and stimulate green tourism.
Applicants:  The Reef-World Foundation and Reef Check Dominican Republic.

Guyana – “Safe Lodges Equal Safe Guests” supports the design and roll out of health and safety protocols for visitors and host communities, a mobile tracing and tracking system, and upskilling of tourism operators to allow for a safe reopening of ecotourism in Guyana’s magnificent Northern Rupununi region.
Applicants:  DAI Global LLC, Guyana Tourism Authority and Wilderness Explorers

Haiti – “Caribbean Tourism Career Accelerator” a virtual program using automation, artificial intelligence, and connectivity tools to fast-track tourism workforce career development with targeted training, coaching, and remote internship placement.
Applicants:  Global Startup Foundation and Cocread

Panama – “Digital Transformation of Indigenous-Led Ecotourism and Conservation” a model to foster a safe and sustainable return to eco-tourism operations by local communities employing cutting-edge technologies to bridge access to global travelers.
Applicants:  Keteka, Global Brigades and Native Future

Trinidad and Tobago – “Creating a community-driven, sustainable cluster and brand to transform ecotourism in Nariva Swamp” will employ a community-led conservation model using participatory Geographic Information Systems and citizen science to develop Nariva as an eco-tourism attraction serviced by local entrepreneurs and benefitting local communities.

Applicant: Caribbean Natural Resources Institute

For general information on the Beyond Tourism Innovation Challenge, click here. 

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