Skip to content
  • KOSPI 2968.33 +23.06 +0.78%
  • KOSDAQ 998.47 +21.04 +2.15%
  • KOSPI200 391.96 +2.32 +0.60%
  • USD/KRW 1177.3 -3.00 -0.25%
  • JPY100/KRW 1,039.97 -5.84 -0.56%
  • EUR/KRW 1,330.41 -5.81 -0.44%
  • CNH/KRW 184.83 -0.27 -0.15%
View Market Snapshot

Venture capital

Travel startups draw new funds amid digital transformation

New funding to accelerate travel platforms' paradigm shift

By Nov 05, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

(Courtesy of Waug)
(Courtesy of Waug)

As South Korea loosened social distancing measures for a gradual return to normal life this week, investors are rekindling their interest in travel startups, which is accelerating their digital transformation.

Waug, a travel booking platform in Korea, recently raised 12 billion won ($10 million) from venture capital firms, according to VC industry sources on Nov. 5. It marked the platform's first new funding in two and a half years since it attracted a combined 13.5 billion won from LB Investment, SBI Investment and other VC firms in 2019.

Participants in the latest funding round include Openwater Investment, Enlight Ventures, TONY Investment, K Bridge Investment and Hana Ventures. Kyowon Group, a South Korean education service provider, was the only strategic partner among the investors.

Established in 2015, Waug offers online booking services for accommodation, outdoor activities and car rental for domestic and international trips. It has launched over 20,000 tourism products covering more than 175 cities around the world. 

Before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, it had posted annual growth of as much as 360%. In 2019, the number of travel bookings on the platform topped 1.6 million.


Tripbtoz, another online travel agency in Korea, raised 6 billion won in a series B funding round late last month. It was the startup's first fundraising since January last year, bringing its cumulative funding to 10.5 billion won.

Korean visual effects company Giantstep Inc., NICE Investment Partners, SJ Investment Partners and T.S. Investment participated in the latest funding.

As a video-based platform, Tripbtoz arranges freestyle trips. It allows users to upload and share their travel videos on the platform so that the viewers can make real-time reservations for the hotels on the screen. Those who uploaded the videos receive discount coupons in compensation, appealing to millennials and Generation Z. 


MateI, the operator of the hotel booking platform Hotel N Joy, received an undisclosed amount of funding from NH Investment & Securities Co. and Ascendo Ventures late last month.

Founded in 2003, MateI is among the country's first-generation online travel agencies. Since it was acquired by The momma, a neighborhood grocery delivery app, last May, the travel platform has been recovering from the pandemic.

Mobility platform Movv, which rents cars in tourist destinations, recently raised 4 billion won in a series A round.

Yanolja Inc., backed by SoftBank's Vision Fund, recently invested 13 billion won in a 65 billion won fund launched by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to support the tourism industry. The travel startup plans to invest an additional 20 billion won in other travel platforms.

A VC industry source said investors are betting on post-pandemic recovery in the travel industry as governments are reopening their borders. 

"It's noteworthy that the travel platforms are accelerating the pace of digital transformation with the new funds," he added.

Write to Jongwoo Kim at

Yeonhee Kim edited this article.

Comment 0