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Tourism, Small Businesses and COVID-19: 2020 APEC App Challenge Registration Opens

APEC Secretariat Singapore | 20 October 2020

The annual APEC App Challenge is now inviting talented software developers and designers from all across the 21 APEC member economies to contribute to the regional effort of mitigating the adverse impact of COVID-19 on the tourism industry—a key sector across the region.

“The tourism sector has been the first sector to be impacted by this pandemic and will probably be the last to recover,” explained Dr Rebecca Sta Maria, APEC Secretariat’s Executive Director. “APEC policymakers are working hard to revive the sector, including creating more travel bubbles and providing incentives and stimulus measures. We are sure that there are other ideas that could benefit this effort. We would very much welcome creative innovation and ideas from youths and talent in the region.”

The region-wide coding competition, supported by APEC, the Asia Foundation, and Google, will be held virtually from 23 October to 2 November this year. Participating teams are challenged to build new mobile or web tools that can help small businesses in the tourism industry better navigate and respond to the varied impacts of COVID-19 on the sector.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on small and medium-sized businesses that support the tourism and hospitality industry across the APEC region,” said John Karr, Senior Director for Technology Programs at the Asia Foundation. “The 2020 APEC App Challenge will demonstrate how digital tools and services can help these businesses survive during this difficult time.”

Participants will have two weeks to complete their products, after which the top teams will demonstrate their apps to a panel of judges during a virtual pitch session. Winners will receive cash prizes and other exciting opportunities. Announcement of the winners will be made during the APEC Annual Ministerial Meeting this November.

As the 2020 host economy, one of the priorities of Malaysia is to promote and mainstream efforts across APEC to leverage digital technologies to achieve balanced, inclusive, sustainable, innovative and secure growth. Malaysia has recently recalibrated its theme this year to focus on building a resilient future.

“Small businesses are integral to economic growth across APEC economies,” said Andrew Ure, Head of Public Affairs for Google Asia-Pacific. “This year’s challenge aims to help small businesses in the tourism sector learn the digital skills that will help them get back on their feet and grow."

To join the 2020 APEC App Challenge, interested developers should register their teams of two to six members by October 22. All team members must be citizens or residents of APEC member economies.

For more information and to register for the challenge, visit the webpage:


For further details, or to arrange possible media interviews, please contact:

Masyitha Baziad +65 9751 2146 or [email protected]
Michael Chapnick +65 9647 4847 or [email protected]

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