Source: Les Roches
Source: Les Roches
Source: Les Roches

Marbella, Spain – Crans-Montana, Switzerland - The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has announced the winners of the “Awake Tourism Challenge”, celebrating the start-ups that are reshaping the sector in every global region. The winning start-ups will be offered an incubation period of three months at SPARK Crans-Montana, the Innovation Hub of Les Roches Global Hospitality Education who partnered with the competition.

The Challenge was the second edition of the UNWTO Global Start-up Competition focusing on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Entrants were judged on how they are contributing to the development of an inclusive, resilient and sustainable tourism sector, with a focus on six core themes:

  • Local Community Involvement
  • Green and Blue Economies
  • Ecological and Sustainable Capital Creation
  • Tourism Tech for Good
  • Tourism Education
  • Women Empowerment
Tourism start-ups have the power and agility to transform the sector in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The winners of the UNWTO Awake Tourism Challenge all have the potential to help build a more inclusive and resilient sector and we look forward to supporting them as they grow in size and influence. UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili

Winners from every global region

The competition attracted more than 2,000 entrants from 120 countries worldwide. The most submissions were from Europe, the Americas and Africa, followed by Asia and the Pacific and the Middle East. From these, an expert jury selected 30 finalists and then 15 winners.

Reflecting the broad talent of the global tourism sector, the winning start-ups are Coastruction (the Netherlands), Noytrall (Portugal), SmArt Tourism and Hospitality Consulting (Panama), Quantum Temple (USA), Socialbnb (Germany), Instituto de Accesibilidad (Spain), Kamatjona (Namibia), Baahdy & Birdy (Norway), WeavAir (Singapore), r3charge (Germany), Impact Innovations Institute (Armenia), NomadHer (South Korea), Murmuration (France), Evelity by Okeenea Digital (France) and Accessible Qatar (Qatar). The projects were recognized for offering innovative service with high customer value, most notably with high levels of youth engagement and the involvement of local communities. Start-ups were also recognized for their use of technology to monitor and manage the environmental impact of tourism activity. More information on the winners and finalists be found on the competition website.

A winning network

The winning start-ups will be offered an incubation period of three months at SPARK Crans-Montana, the Innovation Hub of Les Roches from the Sommet Education group, where they will be participating in mentorships, networking activities and have access to a VR lab, Digital Studio, and a dedicated co-working space. In addition, they will also receive scholarships for the UNWTO Tourism Online Academy, be included in the UNWTO Catalogue of top innovators, be featured in a global communications campaign to showcase each winner and invited for mentorships with project partners.

We are thrilled to welcome the winning start-ups on our campuses; support and nurture their talents so they can transform their ideas and creativity in concrete services and products that will impact the way we all live and travel tomorrow in a sustainable way. Carlos Díez de la Lastra, Chief Executive Officer Les Roches

Innovation as priority

In 2020, Les Roches has made innovation one of its main education priority and created Spark, an innovation sphere encompassing applied research projects with students, faculty & companies, pre-incubation and incubation of start-ups, spaces dedicated to innovation on its campuses (VR Lab, Incubation, Coworking, Culinary Lab & more), events & conferences, challenges and testing projects.

Today, Spark holds 70 hospitality, tech and public institutions partners, works on more than 100 applied research projects, and incubates more than 50 start-ups holding 10 events per year creating a unique innovation network in Hospitality.

About Les Roches

Les Roches is a bespoke experience to educate tomorrow's leaders in hospitality. Founded in 1954 in Switzerland, Les Roches offers undergraduate, graduate degrees and executive programs in Luxury, Hospitality and Tourism Management. Les Roches has campuses across Switzerland, Spain and in Shanghai - China as of 2025 as well as partner campus in Gurugram (Delhi NCR) through an academic alliance with the Indian School of Hospitality (ISH).

With a student body of more than 100 different nationalities, the institution provides students with a unique culturally diverse experience.

Les Roches ranks 4th in the world's higher education institutions for hospitality and leisure management (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2023). Part of Sommet Education, worldwide leader in hospitality education, Les Roches is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

For more information, visit Les Roches.

Anouck Weiss
Chief Communication Officer, Sommet Education
Les Roches

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