Starting a touring business
Get the tourism business basics here and find out specific information on starting a touring business below.
What is a touring business?
A touring business provides transport along with scheduled guided itineraries, and sometimes also makes arrangements for meals and accommodation. Touring businesses generally own or lease vehicles and provide guides/drivers.
Types of tours:
- Full and half day tours
- Extended tours
- Group package tours
- 4X4 adventure tours
- Tag-along tours
- Walking tours
- Cycling tours
- Horse riding tours
- Winery tours
The decision to commence a touring business requires careful consideration regarding the type of tour you intend to develop.
- Which area of the touring industry do you want to become involved in? i.e. full day, half day etc.
- Who are your competitors? How will your business be significantly different to other touring companies in your region?
- How much will the operation realistically cost to set up and how much money do you have available to invest in the business?
- Can you obtain affordable insurance cover to operate the business?
- Could you cover operating costs from other income sources or savings until the business breaks-even (typically 2–3 years)
- What types of customers will be attracted to your business? Are they readily accessible? Are there enough of them to sustain your business?
- Where and how will you find your customers?
- What knowledge and budget do you have at your disposal to market your business?
- Will your touring business represent quality and value for money?
- Special purpose vehicles (e.g. vehicles used for weddings or tours);
- Restricted hire car vehicles including pre-1943 vehicles, four wheel drive tour vehicles, motorcycles and non-emergency ambulances
- Route, tour and charter buses.
- 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
- 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.
Your main local, state and federal Government requirements are as follows.
Applying for a vehicle licence – Driver Accreditation (Commercial Passenger Vehicle)
To drive a bus or special purpose vehicle in Victoria, you must hold a Driver Accreditation as well as a Victorian Driver's Licence. This accreditation is required if your business will be providing a service carrying passengers by bus or a vehicle with more than 13 seats. Obtaining this accreditation will ensure you have met the prescribed standards relating to the provision of road transport passengers services, passenger and public safety, service to passengers and vehicle and equipment safety.
A commercial passenger vehicle is any motor vehicle that is used or intended to be used for carrying passengers for hire or reward. In addition to taxis and hire cars, commercial passenger vehicles include:
Accreditation can be arranged through Transport Safety Victoria
Applying for a tour operator licence
All operators offering outdoor travel, adventure or educational tours on public land areas in Victoria on a commercial basis must hold a current tour operator permit. Non-profit organisations and schools are also required to obtain permits for their activities at specific public land sites. Commercial activities on public land which require a permit include, but are not limited to the following: bushwalking, bicycle riding, horse riding, canoeing, rock climbing and abseiling tours, and tours visiting the 12 Apostles, The Grampians and other National Parks.
Further licences, registrations and permits:
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:
Learn more about insuring your business on the Tourism Excellence website