Starting a tourist attraction
Get the tourism business basics here and find out specific information on starting a tourist attraction below.
What is a tourist attraction?
A tourist attraction is a place of interest where tourists visit, typically for its inherent or exhibited cultural value, historical significance, natural or built beauty, or amusement opportunities.
Arts and crafts outlets, nurseries, garden centres and most retail establishments are generally not considered to be tourist attractions unless the premises are significantly large and they provide some kind of value-added experience such as having a well known or established artist in residence, or interpretative tours of the premises are conducted.
Wineries must provide wine tastings and cellar door sales. Wineries that are only 'open by appointment', are not considered to be a tourist attraction for road signage purposes.
The decision to commence a tourist attraction requires careful consideration regarding the type of tour you intend to develop.
- How much will the operation realistically cost to set up and how much money do you have available to invest in the business?
- Could you cover operating costs from other income sources or savings until the business breaks-even (typically 2–3 years)
- Is your location suitable for your proposed business? Will it easily capture passing trade? Will it be eligible for tourist sign-posting?
- What types of customers will be attracted to your attraction? Are they readily accessible? Is there enough of them to sustain your business?
- Where and how will you find your customers?
- Will your attraction represent quality and value for money?
- How will your attraction differ from the attractions already available in the region; in the state?
Your main local, state and federal Government requirements are as follows.
Applying for a planning permit
To set up a new business, undertake land or building development, or change the purpose of a property, your first step is to apply for a planning permit from your local council. The planning permit provides evidence that the council has given you permission to develop your property.
Make an appointment with a council planning officer who will take you through the application process. You will be advised on the zoning of your land and any other local planning conditions that apply to your development.
Do I also need a building permit?
If your development involves construction, demolition, alteration or extension of a building, you will probably need a building permit. This can be issued by either your local council building surveyor or a privately registered building surveyor.
The building permit gives the surveyor’s permission for building work to go ahead and ensures that building regulations are followed. If you are unsure if you need a building permit, contact either your council building department or a privately registered building surveyor of your choice.
Further licences, registrations and permits
- To register a business or company name: business name registration with Consumer Affairs Victoria, or company name registration with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
- To register for tax: Tax File Number, Australian Business Number and GST/PAYG withholding registrations from the Australian Taxation Office.
- To play recorded music: music licences from the Australian Performing Rights Association and Phonographic Performance Company of Australia.
Make the job easy – use ABLIS
The easiest way to identify the range of licences, registrations and permits you will need is to use the Australian Business Licence Information Service (ABLIS).
Go to ablis.business.vic.gov.au answer the questions and ABLIS will create a report of your relevant licences, application forms for those licences and details of the authorities you will need to contact.
As well as insuring your premises and assets, the following additional insurances can be critical for touring businesses.
- Public liability of at least $10 million to cover paying customers
- Product liability to cover prepared food or other products offered to guests
- Motor vehicle insurance
- Personal injury and/or income protection, especially if WorkCover is not applicable to your business. Personal injury and income protection are often taken out by sole traders and partnerships.
Learn more about insuring your business on the Tourism Excellence website