“Youth: the talent behind the change. Towards an innovative, rural, sustainable and impact-generating tourism”.

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Adding efforts that contribute to the development of rural tourism, goes beyond feeding the growing interest of travelers, to access authentic outdoor experiences, such as those offered by nature tourism – which are in turn a sample of the desire for ‘freedom feeling’ – which responds mostly to the effects left on the population by the various restrictions adopted as a containment measure against the spread of COVID-19.

However, betting on rurality, and the development of tourism alternatives of this nature, transcends the mere tourist experience. It is an ideal mechanism through which tourism promotes inclusion and combats poverty, since 80% of people living in extreme poverty live in rural areas; it is a tool for regional development, bridging the digital divide and improving Internet access in areas that are still disconnected; It is key to combating depopulation and decongesting urban centers, where it is expected that by 2050, 68% of the population will live in cities; it contributes to reducing the wage gap and dignifying the work of women and especially young people, where 88% of those living in developing countries are located in rural areas.

Understanding the imperative need to prioritize rural tourism within the agenda of strategies for the recovery of the sector, the World Tourism Organization UNWTO has launched the UNWTO GLOBAL RURAL TOURISM STARTUP COMPETITION which aims to identify entrepreneurs and companies that believe they have a disruptive and innovative solution designed to help rural communities take advantage of the social and economic opportunities that will arise when tourism resumes.

Taking into account the variety of stakeholders, ecosystems, cultures and contexts that comprise the amalgam of rural tourism, the competition is divided into 4 key categories, which broadly frame the needs of the sector:

– People – Leaving no one behind: Solutions that contribute to job creation, strengthen female and youth empowerment, and create opportunities for vulnerable groups in rural areas.
– Planet – Building back-better: Solutions related to the promotion and protection of natural resources, and more specifically to mitigating the impact of tourism in the areas of climate change, as well as waste management and resource consumption.
– Prosperity – Opportunities for growth: Start-ups that provide innovative solutions through new business models and instruments that promote access to financing, markets and marketing for tourism in rural areas.
– Propulsion of Rural Technology: Implementation of new technologies to boost tourism and development in rural areas.

Don’t be left out of this opportunity to contribute and create opportunities in rural destinations through innovation and digital transformation. Registrations for the competition will be open until July 1, 2021.

Register here: https://www.unwto.org/es/competicion-mundial-de-la-omt-para startups-de-turismo-rural

Natalia Bayona
Director
Innovation, Education and Investments
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

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