Impactful, innovative and successful tourism tech solutions are the need of the hour in the approximately 1.31 trillion U.S.dollars global Tourism Industry. Tourism, having gone through massive setbacks during the pandemic, has been galvanising the energy and enthusiasm of technology entrepreneurs and tech startups to provide intelligent solutions.
With the help of technological innovations, tourism is set to rethink experiences and conveniences for travellers as well as fintech, clean tech, operational and other solutions to suppliers of the tourism sector.
With sharp go-to-market models that solve real problems for the industry and uphold, ecotourism, sustainability and environmental objectives, these tourism tech innovations will change the way we experience travel. With the right resources and knowledge, as well as funding support, tech entrepreneurs can be led to create lasting economic, social and environmental impacts in Tourism.
The growth of capital flows towards TourismTech startups indicates a clear shift from traditional investments towards non-traditional investments in the tourism sector. UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organisation) Startup challenges and Competitions are geared towards getting interesting ideas out into the market, solving challenges and easing processes and efficiencies for suppliers.
Venture capital firms are looking to drive the expansion plans of travel tech startups in India, as business and leisure travel picks up across the globe. Investors are betting big on the sector and according to industry estimates, globally, companies spent more than $1.4 trillion on travel in 2019 – the sector is quickly returning to those levels. Leisure travel has gone through a rebound and there is definitely a huge interest in travel startups and the travel technology space. Opportunities are emerging, to offer new things around how people experience travel, tourist destinations and hospitality.
TourismTech Startup entrepreneurs can also avail of various government schemes. At FiiRE (Forum for Incubation, Innovation, Research & Entrepreneurship) for instance, a Goa-based TourismTech startup, various funding schemes can be availed after due diligence, and accessing eligibility:
NIDHI – PRAYAS
NIDHI – PRAYAS is a scheme that provides Grant Support for an Idea to Prototype. Many entrepreneurs and innovators lose interest in their technology ventures due to the lack of support for early-stage prototyping.
Under the National Initiative for Developing and Harnessing Innovations (NIDHI), the National Science & Technology Entrepreneurship Development Board (NSTEDB), Department of Science & Technology (DST), Government of India launched the NIDHI-PRAYAS programme to fill the funding gap for very early stage idea/proof of concept development.
A pre-incubation initiative, the NIDHI – Promoting and Accelerating Young and Aspiring Technology Entrepreneurs (NIDHI-PRAYAS) programme supports young innovators in developing a proof-of-concept for their ideas. With this support, entrepreneurs will be able to test their ideas without worrying about failing, progressing to the point where they have a finished product and are ready to approach incubators about commercialisation.
The maximum grant support extent to Innovator/Incubatee is Rs.10.00 lakhs.
The goal of NIDHI-PRAYAS is to make it possible to turn an innovative idea into a working prototype, to offer a platform for quicker experimentation and approach modifications during the idea-to-market journey, and to develop creative solutions that address regional and global issues. Give young people the chance to work on their new technology, knowledge, or innovation-based startups, support the development of an innovative ecosystem and create a diverse network of innovators, academics, mentors, and investors.
The NIDHI-EIR Program:
NIDHI-EIR Program offers opportunities such as guidance from seasoned, creative, and highly successful entrepreneurs on the business concept, strategy, or venture as well as insight into particular industries or markets, the Best Practices for Starting a Business and Broadening the Professional Network, and Co-Working Spaces for Developing the Idea into a Marketable Product.
The ambitions of the NIDHI-EIR Support Program are to encourage graduating students to pursue entrepreneurship by offering financial assistance in the form of fellowships, In order to give deserving and aspiring entrepreneurs a prestigious platform where they can pursue their business ventures without taking on any additional risks associated with technology-based businesses, In order to build up and strengthen the incubator’s pipeline of entrepreneurs, To increase the appeal of starting a business based on a technology idea among other possible career paths and, finally, to make it possible for entrepreneurs to launch new start-ups and make significant strides toward obtaining funding or investment.
Startup India Seed Fund Scheme:
FiiRE, also implements the Startup India Seed Fund Scheme. Startup India Seed Fund Scheme (SISFS) aims to provide financial assistance to startups for proof of concept, prototype development, product trials, market entry and commercialization.
This would enable these startups to graduate to a level where they will be able to raise investments from angel investors or venture capitalists or seek loans from commercial banks or financial institutions.
PRIME MINISTER’S EMPLOYMENT GENERATION PROGRAMME (PMEGP)
PMEGP is a central sector scheme that will be managed by the Ministry of Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME). Its objectives include the development of new self-employment ventures, projects, and micro enterprises, as well as bringing together widely dispersed traditional artisans and rural and urban unemployed youth and providing them with self-employment opportunities at their location.
The Chief Minister’s Rojgar Yojana (CMRY)
The Goa State Government has initiated CMRY for the benefit of young people without jobs, in cooperation with the Economic Development Corporation of Goa. According to this initiative, all common people, scheduled castes, scheduled tribes, and other members of the lower social classes will be provided employment with the aid of government loans.
The Chief Minister’s RojgarYojana scheme seeks to improve employment prospects and enrich each unemployed person’s life. This programme is only available to Goa residents who have been there for at least 15 to 40 years.
In accordance with the CMRY programme, the government mandates entrepreneurship training for 30 days before disbursing loans to beneficiaries to whom loans have been approved.
At FiiRE Goa, facilities such as the Design Center and Virtual Reality (VR) Engagements help entrepreneurs virtually build and conceptualise their ideas using VR technology. As a tourism tech accelerator, FiiRE’s core focus is on supporting tech startups to build, go to market, and grow with funding, knowledge and market access opportunities. It is one of the leading incubation centres in the country that is authorised to disburse funds with a view to encouraging startup activity and entrepreneurship development.
Having supported 100+ startups, of which many received funding support, FiiRE has the vision to make Goa the most-preferred startup destination for Tourism Tech startups. With government support for MVP testing, industry mentors as well as an environment that is conducive to creativity and innovation, Goa becomes an ideal choice for many tech entrepreneurs, to start off their ventures
While Venture Capitalists will continue believing in the combined power of tourism and technology, startups should look to various funding options during different stages of growth.
The optimism is as high as the potential, in the travel, and tourism sector- and the figures say it all.
According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourism saw a 182% year-on-year increase in January-March 2022. The industry will continue to grow. And tech startups will continue to sharpen their solutions to ensure healthy growth in the next decade.