United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)


The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is the United Nations agency responsible for the promotion of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism.

Description of Activities on AI

The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), following its mandate to promote sustainable, accessible and responsible tourism worldwide, foster technology implementation within the sector’s value chain and Member States through its UNWTO Tourism Startup Competitions and UNWTO Specific Challenges. Participating entrepreneurs frequently use a combination of technologies including artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, internet of things, big data and blockchain. This integration, commonly led by AI, allow seamless, safe and sustainable manners of travelling.

Project 1: UNWTO Tourism Startup Competitions and Challenges

From 2018 to date, UNWTO has led 6 Startup Competitions. Two of them has addressed sector wide topics to transform the way people travel such as Deep Tech: Location & Geolocation Data, Smart Mobility, Smart Destinations, Disruptive Hospitality, Rural Development and Sustainability. Two has focused on Gastronomy, one in Sports and one in Rural Tourism. Furthermore, it has powered the UNWTO Healing Solutions for Tourism Challenge to address COVID-19 impacts on people, businesses and destinations.

Over 6500 applications from more than 150 countries has been screened to gather 17 winners from which several Artificial Intelligence startups are to be highlighted within the tourism wide value chain. For example, VAT refunds (Refundit), users and brands connections (Klustera), accessibility for people with hearing disabilities (Visualfy), facilitate hospitality operations through chatbot (HiJiffy) or ensure security during the current crisis (See True).

These success cases and their matchmaking with the global tourism innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem stakeholders demonstrate the power of technology for tourism and sustainability.

Project 2: UNWTO SDGs Global Startup Competition

Following the past programmes and in order to provide more solutions for tourism recovery and global sustainability, UNWTO has launched its SDGs Global Startup Competition, a world call to reach the most disruptive startups that directly contribute to accelerate the achievement of sustainable development. This Competition aims to encourage the global innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem to embrace sustainability and to deliver impact during the United Nations Decade of Action starting this year. Bringing together stakeholders from a variety of sectors across the economy, this initiative sets out to reach a common goal, to set innovation at the forefront of sustainable development in corporations and destinations.

Related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

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