Air Europa Blog

The AirEuropa Blog

11 October 2019

Globalia and the UNWTO show their commitment to tourism startups

For the second consecutive year, Globalia, together with the World Tourism Organization, have joined forces for the UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition. The invitation for applications for the competition was announced last September in St. Petersburg by the Secretary General of the UNWTO, Zurab Pololikashvili, and by the CEO of Globalia, Javier Hidalgo. What are the key themes of this edition? Exploring new territory in the tourism sector: innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable development. We share this initiative with you! Would you like to participate?


Wakalua is the first global tourism innovation hub, developed by Globalia in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization of the United Nations (UNWTO).

This year, the second edition of the startup competition involves new partners such as Telefónica, Amadeus, Intu and Distrito Digital Valencia, which see Wakalua as a launch pad that will enable “a bright, sustainable and profitable future. It will also help us to develop a circular economy, as well as to promote social development. At Globalia we are aware that the tourism of the future will not be the same as the tourism of the past; it needs to be better for our planet, our children and the environment. This competition will help us to overcome these challenges through technology and innovation,” stated Globalalia’s CEO.

Furthermore, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the UNWTO, stated that “with this competition we are exploring new territory in tourism, innovation, entrepreneurship and sustainable development. We have managed to bring together the most relevant aspects for the development of our sector and its importance on a global scale.

Participant categories

  • Smart Mobility
  • Smart Destinations
  • Deep Tech, rethinking localisation and geolocation
  • Disruptive hospitality
  • Rural development

Smart Mobility. In partnership with Telefónica, we are looking for projects that improve the quality of travel and facilitate users’ mobility through any transport system. The aim is to reduce economic, environmental and time-related costs.

Smart Destinations. With the collaboration of Distrito Digital Valencia, we are looking for solutions that help us to improve the sustainability and profitability of the destination from an economic, environmental and socio-cultural point of view, where technology helps to foster innovation and accessibility in an increasingly globalised world.

Deep Tech, rethinking localisation and geolocation. Together with Amadeus, we want to attract startups that offer a unique value proposition to travellers or travel companies through localisation systems. We will be focusing on concepts that simplify the trip thanks to data extracted through AI-based localisation. They can be used to identify tourist regions, link them to nearby airports, extract data on image, text or video localisation, optimise urban routes, analyse perceptions about locations and much more.

Disruptive hospitality. With Intu, we are looking for new or existing and consolidated companies from all over the world that will help us to achieve a world-class experience in the global resort of the future. We want every tourist visit to be as efficient as possible.

Rural development. At Globalia we will put particular effort into solutions for forested, agricultural and rural areas in order to help disseminate knowledge and innovation and to improve their viability and competitiveness. This category also seeks companies that work in risk management, animal welfare and the restoration, preservation and improvement of ecosystems, with a continuous focus on promoting the change towards a more decarbonised economy.


In the first edition, 20 startups from 12 countries reached the semi-finals and finals, which were held in Budapest and Madrid, respectively. The tax refund company Refundit came out as the winner. In addition, as a founding partner, Globalia also invested in Freebird together with Portugal Ventures, it established a joint venture with Tripscience and it launched a pilot scheme with Pruvo.

The 2nd edition of the UNWTO Tourism Startup Competition will be launched worldwide and the entry period will end on 15 November. The winners will be announced on 21 January 2020 during a gala event held within the framework of the Madrid International Tourism Fair (Fitur).

On the other hand, the UNWTO will award a special prize for sustainability, the aim of which is to provide visibility to projects that are committed to a more efficient form of tourism.

This annual competition is one of the major projects of Wakalua, Globalia’s tourism innovation hub, which will host the winning companies to see them through their development and will help them to build relations with leading companies in the sector. In this project, the UNWTO and Globalia also have the support of the innovation consultancy firm Ba-rrabé

Would you like more information? Would you like to enter?

For more information and registrations, visit

También disponible en / Also available in: Français (French) Português (Portuguese (Portugal))

Alicia Ratto