Four Is­raeli start-ups reach fi­nal in global tourism in­no­va­tion con­test

The Jerusalem Post - - NEWS - • By EYTAN HALON

Four Is­raeli tourism start-ups are among 10 fi­nal­ists com­pet­ing for glory at the in­au­gu­ral United Na­tions World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion (UNWTO) startup com­pe­ti­tion, or­ga­niz­ers an­nounced Wed­nes­day. There were 3,000 sub­mis­sions to the con­test from com­pa­nies in 132 coun­tries.

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 Levine 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.

(UNWTO)

MEM­BERS OF Is­raeli com­pa­nies join other en­ter­preneurs at the UN World Tourism Or­ga­ni­za­tion start-up com­pe­ti­tion semi-fi­nal in Budapest on Septem­ber 27.

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