Israeli companies with Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization, at the start-up competition semi-final. (photo credit: UNWTO/WORLD TOURISM DAY 2018)
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Four Israeli tourism start-ups are among 10 finalists competing for glory at the inaugural United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) start-up competition, organizers announced Wednesday.
The competition, in partnership with Spain’s largest tourism corporation Globalia, aims to identify the most innovative start-ups from all 158 UNWTO member-states that will lead the future transformation of the tourism sector.
The winning start-up will design a pilot project with Globalia and its major brands, including AirEuropa, Be Live and Travelplan. Globalia employs 13,000 workers and has an annual turnover of more than 3.5 billion euros ($4 billion).
All 10 finalists will receive sponsored participation and networking opportunities at FITUR, the International Tourism Trade Fair taking place in Madrid, Spain, in January 2019.
“This is a significant achievement for companies in the field of tourism technology in Israel, which position Israel as a global leader in the domain,” said Economy Minister Eli Cohen.
Refundit, the Tel Aviv-based tax refund start-up, is the first of the Israeli finalists. The company, co-founded by Uri Levin and Ziv Tirosh, enables users of its simple application to easily submit VAT refund requests prior to arriving at the airport and without stopping at customs.
Pruvo, Israel’s second representative in the final, is a Haifa-based hotel booking optimization start-up that provides an automatic online service which takes existing hotel reservations from websites, hotels and travel agencies and tracks their prices, alerting users if there is a better deal for the same booking.
In November 2017, Pruvo announced the closure of a $360,000 round of funding by Israeli crowd equity platform ExitValley.
Located in the southern town of Omer, SeeVoov offers an interactive video travel planning application based on artificial intelligence and deep learning. Once users select their points of interest, the platform plans the best route for their trip and enables them to make reservations.
Finally, Herzliya-based Howazit is a smart end-to-end customer communication platform, allowing businesses to better communicate with customers – in this case, tourists – to enhance satisfaction, loyalty, engagement and sales.
“In July 2018, the Ministry of Economy’s economic attaché in Spain and the Export Institute initiated a seminar in Israel where we presented the competition together with the organizers, leading to the registration of the Israeli companies,” said Liat Shaham, head of the economic mission of the Israel Embassy in Spain.
“The finalists will now receive exposure at an international tourism exhibition and an opportunity to work with important players in the field,” Shaham added.
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