Startup Tourism Moldova Call for Applications

The Moldova Competitiveness Project (MCP) is funded by USAID and the Swedish Government and implemented by Chemonics International in Moldova. MCP supports Republic of Moldova’s efforts to promote a strong, diverse and export-oriented economy by improving competitiveness and efficiency in key Moldovan industries, including the tourism industry, by focusing on: increased productivity and quality; expanded market linkages; improved sector-enabling environment.

Startup Tourism Program is implemented by MCP in partnership with ANTRIM (National Inbound Tourism Association) and is in line with the collaboration framework established by the Project with the Ministry of Economy and Infrastructure, the Moldovan Agency of Investment and the National Vine and Wine Office (ONVV).

Program Overview

One of the challenges facing tourism in Moldova is the limited number of tour operators that focus on inbound tourism and promote Moldova as a tourism destination on international markets. To fill in this gap, in June 2016 Moldova Competitiveness Project financed by USAID and the government of Sweden conceptualized the Startup Tourism Moldova Program to help companies understand inbound tourism products, international market demand, how to find partners and to encourage them to work on the inbound sector and create local tourism products. At the first edition, three companies were selected to have one-on-one coaching for product design and innovation, business planning, strategy services, and marketing and sales. As a result, three innovative experience-based tours were developed:

  1. Cultural activities and bike tours in certain regions of Moldova;
  2. Wine and gastronomy tours, including visits to handicraft centers and cooking masterclasses;
  3. Explore nature tours with visits to Nature Reserves and hiking routes.

The 2018 edition of the Startup Tourism Program encourages tour operators to develop experiential tourism products, such as biking and hiking trails around wineries, gastronomic and cultural tours, and handicraft tours, but also innovative digital campaigns for promoting authentic tourism experiences in Moldova. One of the focus areas of the Program is the development of clear brand identities for the participating companies to differentiate their tourism products and improve the content of the promotional materials.

Start-Up Tourism Program Stages 

If selected to participate in the Startup Tourism Program, the tailored support program will include four focus areas:

  • Developing the corporate toolkit to kick-off inbound tourism services (for example: corporate identity, website development, POSM design, content in foreign languages, PR & social media marketing campaigns, photo and video creation etc.)
  • Elaboration of strategic policy documents (clarifying the positioning, establishing the competitive advantages, setting up the strategic target markets etc.)
  • Assistance in developing inbound tourism products (such as routes, itineraries, concepts for masterclasses and experiential tourism etc.)
  • Support for entering new markets (including but not limited to info tours for foreign partners, participation at key international tourism exhibitions, participation at international matchmaking events etc.)

Selection criteria – Eligible new products

Startup Tourism support for the development and promotion of a new tourism products/offers, is available to any Moldovan owned businesses or associations working in the tourism economy, including: accommodation providers, tour operators, travel agencies, independent guides, and registered cultural or environmental non-profit organizations (NGOs). The business or association must be legally instituted and registered according to relevant Moldovan law. In selecting the new tourism offer to be supported, both mandatory and desirable requirements apply. 

Mandatory selection criteria: New products which will be supported by Startup Moldova must:

  • Be in line with the country tourism positioning
  • Be focused on value adding and experiential tourism
  • Develop new authentic experience products, including but not limited to artisanal activities, souvenir production, experience-based tours etc.
  • Have the support and endorsement of any local communities visited
  • Support the preservation of Moldova’s cultural and natural heritage.
  • Economically benefit local/Moldovan communities/businesses.
  • Comply with all Moldovan legal regulations.
  • Meet international safety and environmental standards.

Desirable selection criteria: In addition to the mandatory requirements listed above, the successful applications will be new tourism offers which best meet the following preferred criteria:

  • Help to attract visitors to Moldova from new markets, in particular the new offer should have appeal to established international inbound tour operators which may or may not have existing offers in Moldova.
  • Generate or encourage longer stays, (for example, multi-day tours or programs).
  • Extend the tourism season (with potential to attract visitors in January – May and October – December periods).
  • Increase the average expenditure of international visitors to Moldova.
  • Attract niche / special interest groups (for example, wine & gastronomy, rural & agritourism, MICE and active offers).
  • Follow a sustainable model for tourism development (for example, small group, high value tourism will be given preference over mass tourism and budget offers).
  • Dispersed (for example the new offer will encourage visits away from the most popular tourism sites).
  • To demonstrate good market demand & growth potential, with the potential to be profitable within 12 months.
  • Require minimal investment.
  • Be scale-able (for example, the new offer should be easily adapted to shorter or longer durations and group sizes to meet customer requirements).
  • Replicable, (Moldova has great untapped potential for tourism, it is intended that the initial Start Up tourism offers will encourage the development of similar offers in Moldova, which will improve Moldova’s international profile as a tourism destination.

If you are ready to join the Startup Tourism Program, follow the next steps:

1. Fill in the Application Form and send it to  by November 15, 2018.

2. If you have any questions write to