14 Startups from Singapore to Colombia came all the way to Portugal for the tourism startup bootcamp “The Journey’ powered by beta-i and Turismo de Portugal.

Founded in 2017 to promote innovations in the Tourism Industry, ‘The Journey‘ is a 5-months program open to travel and tourism entrepreneurs from around the world.

It is a joint initiative from Portugal’s tourism board Turismo de Portugal and Lisbon’s innovation engine beta-i, in partnership with Grupo Barraqueiro, Geostart, Pestana Group, SATA Azores Airlines and NOS.

This year’s edition is focussed on startups hailing from the hospitality, travel agency, tours and ground transportation sector.

The market segments that the selected startups are focussing on hint at some major trends in the global tourism sector, including multi-generational travel, catering to ‘millenials’ and combining business and leisure, dubbed “bleisure” tourism.

Selected startups just completed the program bootcamp on September 13th, and are currently piloting their innovations in an eight-week accelerator program running until Demo Day on November 20th.

According to former participants, access to the program partners and mentor networks is one of the main draw of the program.

“Not only we learned a lot about the tourism vertical, but we also had the opportunity to interview the program partners, understand their needs and formulate a solution that helps them. With this process, we got Barraqueiro and Pestana Hotels as clients during the program”, testifies Rui Guedes from Ground Control, alumni of the first edition of “The Journey” held last year.

While last year’s participants still overwhelmingly came from Europe, the second edition of the program has clearly increased its global reach. Participants from overseas include SaaS and Big Data startup Omikuji from Colombia, personalized travel entrepreneurs personal2travel.com from Brazil and ‘Workation’ program Venture with Impact from the United states.

The global reach of the program might be fuelled by a particularly successful year of marketing Portugal’s tourism sector abroad.

2018 has clearly put Portugal on the map of tourism companies around the world, as Turismo de Portugal took home the award for Europe’s leading destination 2018 as well as Europe’s leading tourism board at the World travel awards.

Tourism is also a major sector for Portugal’s booming startup scene. Earlier this month, Portugal Ventures announced that it will hold a “Call for Tourism” to promote projects and startups that highlight Portugal’s culture and heritage after investing €2 million in two tourism startups.

Read more: Portugal Ventures invests €2M to promote tourism startups highlighting culture, heritage

‘The Journey’ accelerator program is committed to further developing the sector.

Pedro Rocha Vieira, Co-Founder and CEO of Beta-i (Image courtesy: Lisbon Tourism Summit)

“This initiative comes at a time when tourism is expected to grow at a rate of 4% per year over the next 10 years”, said Pedro Rocha Vieira, co-founder and CEO of Beta-i in an interview earlier this year

The objective is that by 2027, Portugal can record 80 million overnight stays; but to maintain this growth in a sustainable way, it is also necessary to leverage innovation in the industry.”

These are the 14 tourism startups of the global 2018 edition of ‘The Journey’:

  • aPieceof.me – PortugalA platform to find unique souvenirs and sustain local commerce and trade
  • CityCheck – Portugal
    A location-based game app that allows you to explore and play games while visiting a city.
  • Convious – Netherlands
    A ‘solution to sell more at your own website’.
  • Destygo– France
    All-in-one Chatbot technology for travel companies.
  • GoWifi – Portugal
    Monetizing free wi-fi with data analytics and marketing tools.
  • Hopstay -France
    AI-driven destination concierges for cities.
  • Omikuji – Colombia
    A SaaS company committed to democratize the use of Big Data and Advanced Analytics solutions.
  • Personal2Travel – Brazil
    Help travel companies to know travelers and creating personalized relationships.
  • Social CxN – USA
    An automated Influencer Marketing Platform
  • Timescenery – UK
    A social and frictionless trip planner and marketplace.
  • Venture With Impact – USA
    Venture with Impact matches working professionals with NGO or social business abroad.
  • Wall-i – Portugal
    A cloud-based Digital Signage OS.
  • WeTravel – USA
    A payment platform for travel companies and organizers.
  • Waylo – USA
    The first Hotel Price Prediction App