Jakarta (ANTARA) - The annual APEC App Challenge is inviting talented software developers and designers from 21 APEC members to contribute to regional efforts to mitigate adverse impacts of COVID-19 on the tourism industry, the region’s key sector.

"The tourism sector has been the first sector to be impacted by this pandemic and will probably be the last to recover," APEC Secretariat’s Executive Director, Rebecca Sta Maria, noted in a written statement issued by the APEC Secretariat received here on Wednesday.

"APEC policymakers are working hard to revive the sector, including creating more travel bubbles and providing incentives and stimulus measures. We are certain that other ideas could bolster this effort. We would widely welcome creative innovation and ideas from youths and talent in the region," she expounded.

The region-wide virtual coding competition, supported by APEC, the Asia Foundation, and Google, will be held from October 23 to November 2 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 wide-ranging 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," Senior Director for Technology Programs at the Asia Foundation John Karr noted.

"The 2020 APEC App Challenge will demonstrate how digital tools and services can help these businesses survive during this difficult time," Karr affirmed.

Participants will be offered a two-week period to complete the work on their products, after which the top teams will showcase their apps to a panel of judges during a virtual pitch session.

Winners will bag cash prizes and be able to avail other opportunities. Winners will be announced during the APEC Annual Ministerial Meeting this November.

One of the priorities of Malaysia, as the 2020 host economy, 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 prioritize building a resilient future.

"Small businesses are integral to economic growth across APEC economies," Head of Public Affairs for Google Asia-Pacific Andrew Ure stated.

"This year’s challenge aims to help small businesses in the tourism sector inculcate digital skills that will help them get back on their feet and grow," Ure affirmed.

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

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Reporter: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
Editor: Sri Haryati
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