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Starting a tourist attraction

Find out what it takes to be a tourist attraction

On this page

  • What is a tourist attraction?
  • Things to consider when deciding to start a tourist attraction
  • Government requirements, licences and permits
  • The Australian Business Licence Information Service
  • Insuring your business

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.

Reaching your decision

The decision to commence a tourist attraction requires careful consideration regarding the type of tour you intend to develop. Use the following questions as a guideline to help you decide whether you're ready to commence a tourist attraction:

  1. How much will the operation realistically cost to set up?
  2. How much money do you have available to invest in the business?
  3. Could you cover operating costs from other income sources or savings until the business breaks-even (typically two to three years)?
  4. Is your location suitable for your proposed business?
  5. Will your location easily capture passing trade?
  6. Will your location be eligible for tourist sign-posting?
  7. What types of customers will be attracted to your attraction?
  8. Are your customers readily accessible?
  9. Are there enough customers to sustain your business?
  10. Where and how will you find your customers?
  11. Will your attraction represent quality and value for money?
  12. How will your attraction differ from the attractions already available in the region, or in the state?

Meeting government requirements

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.

Applying for 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 permission for building work to go ahead and ensures that building regulations are followed. If you're 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

Make your job easier by using ABLIS

The easiest way to identify the range of licences, registrations and permits you'll need is to use the Australian Business Licence Information Service (ABLIS).

ABLIS will create a report of your relevant licences, application forms for those licences and details of the authorities you will need to contact. 

Insuring your business

As well as insuring your premises and assets, the following additional insurances can be critical for tourist attraction 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