IDB Lab launches an innovation challenge to revitalize the tourism sector in 15 countries


The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), through its IDB Lab innovation laboratory and in collaboration with the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), seeks to identify business models to transform and revitalize the tourism sector. To do this, it launches an innovation challenge to which organizations from both the public and private sectors can apply until July 31.

The challenge aims to identify innovations in two categories: the development of the tourism workforce, which must have new digital skills for the recovery phase, and environmental sustainability, which includes the adoption of waste management measures through models of circular economy, as well as climate-smart agricultural practices.

IDB Lab will consider applicants from the public and private sectors to implement the project in one of these 15 countries: Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

Funding requests for non-reimbursable technical assistance can range from $ 250,000 to $ 500,000. In the case of loans, the amounts will be from US $ 500,000 to US $ 2,000,000. Applicants must contribute at least 50% of the total project budget.

According to UNWTO, the tourism sector is one of the most affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Before this pandemic, tourism was one of the largest economic sectors in the world, supporting one in ten jobs (319 million) worldwide and generating 10.4% of world GDP.

For the 15 countries selected in this contest, the average contribution of the tourism sector to GDP is 16.4%. On average, tourism represents 1 out of every 6 dollars of GDP contribution. Tourism is also vital for employment in these countries, with an average contribution of 17.9%. The contribution of tourism to exports is also significant, since for 8 of these 15 countries it represents more than 20% of total exports.

The tourism sector is resilient and historically has re-emerged from destabilizing and unforeseen events through the collaboration and innovation of the sector’s actors. The crisis generated by COVID-19 offers an opportunity for the tourism sector and its closely related supply chains to embrace digital transformation and boost innovation ecosystems in the public and private sectors. Innovation can drive the sector to recalibrate and emerge from this crisis ready to grow again.

Entities eligible to participate in this Challenge include entrepreneurs, startups, NGOs, social companies, public innovation agencies or similar entities with specialization and knowledge of the tourism sector.

The schedule, evaluation criteria and the selection process for the call are found here: Applications will be received until July 31.