The Mekong Region is Southeast Asia is steeped in rich history and culture,

making it a favorite tourist destination.

Every year, millions of tourists come to the Mekong Region

to experience the sights, sounds, and flavors unique to this part of Asia.

The Mekong Region includes four lower-middle income countries

whose natural and cultural tourism assets

are connected to the Mekong River: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Viet Nam.

Collectively, these four countries received

29.3 million inbound international tourists in 2018 

but the arrivals benefitted only less than ten tourist destinations.

Weak transport infrastructure

and a challenging business environment

make it difficult to promote secondary destinations.

In 2018, ADB and the Government of Australia

implemented the Mekong Tourism Innovation technical

assistance (TA) program to boost tourism start-ups and

promote inclusivity.

The TA funded a start-up bootcamp called the Mekong

Innovative Start-ups in Tourism or MIST 2018.

The MIST is an accelerator program that incubates early-

stage tourism startups

by facilitating market access and technology transfer

with mature tourism companies, destination marketing,

and hospitality service solutions.

MIST 2018 received 107 applications

from which 9 start-ups graduated from the accelerator program:

5 in the start-up track, and 4 in the market access track.

14 more start-ups finished the MIST bootcamp.

After the program,

23 commercial partnerships were signed,

$1.65 million potential investments were raised,

813 media features shared their stories.

Their stories were also shared 3.1 million times in social media.

Tourism in the Mekong Region can now benefit big and small enterprises

as it continues to offer a beautiful experience of its rich and unique culture

and amazing people.