Start my tourism business

If you are thinking about starting a tourism business we’ve got some tips and advice to get you started

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Starting a business is a major decision. It can be hard work to get a tourism business off the ground and keep it going, but also extremely rewarding. Before opening the doors to visitors, take the time to gather quality information and advice first.

If you are thinking about starting a tourism business or bringing a new tourism experience to Wellington, please get in touch with our Tourism team.

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New Zealand tourism industry

There are many key players that make up the New Zealand tourism industry. If you are thinking of starting a tourism business these are a few organisations you should be aware of:

  • Tourism Industry Aotearoa (TIA) - This association represents all sectors of New Zealand's tourism industry. It advocates for issues that impact the industry and works to build a sustainable industry that benefits Aotearoa and our people.
  • Tourism New Zealand - This is the organisation responsible for marketing New Zealand to the world as a tourist destination. Since the COVID-19 outbreak, it has also been tasked with promoting New Zealand domestically.
  • Regional Tourism Organisations (RTOs) – There are 31 regional tourism organisations across New Zealand which are responsible for marketing their region and supporting their local tourism businesses. WellingtonNZ is the RTO for the Wellington region and works closely with Destination Wairarapa, the RTO for the Wairarapa.

Once you understand who these key players are, you can ensure you align your business to the New Zealand tourism context.

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Understanding Wellington's tourism economy

When thinking about your tourism offering, it is important to align your product to meet the needs of our key visitor markets and sales channels.

Who are our key visitor markets?

The domestic market has always been Wellington's biggest visitor market, even before New Zealand's borders were closed. Key domestic markets are urban centres such as Auckland and Christchurch and drive-time regions such as Taranaki and Hawke’s Bay. Australia is our second biggest visitor market and further abroad are China, United Kingdom, Germany, North America and South East Asia.

How does tourism get sold?

Most new tourism businesses get most of their sales directly or through their websites. As your business grows you can look to sell your products through the i-SITE network and then through other intermediaries. Think about this from the start so you can set pricing strategies that allow you to work with these different intermediaries. To better understand this process please talk to our team.

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Key things to do to set up your tourism business

When establishing a business, you must comply with the relevant regulations and legislation. Speak to a professional if you are unsure which regulations may apply to your business.

These are a few that are relevant for tourism operators:

  • When you start a business you become a PCBU (person conducting a business or undertaking) under the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Check out the Worksafe website to find out what this means for you.
  • If your product has any aspect of adventure, check the WorkSafe website to see if your product is considered an “Adventure Activity” and if you need to follow specific “Adventure Activity” regulations.
  • If you are running a passenger service, look at the New Zealand Transport Agency website to find out what licences you require.
  • If you plan to take visitors to public conservation land or interact with wildlife, you may need a Department of Conservation (DOC) permit.

Who to talk to?

When setting up a new tourism business it is important to talk to the right people and get the right advice.

WellingtonNZ – If you are thinking of starting a tourism business in Wellington, please get in touch with us. We would love to hear about your ideas and talk to you about how to get started.

Your local council – Get in touch with your local council and they can talk you through any specific context relevant for your area.

Chamber of Commerce – Speak to your local chamber about its range of advisory services and business support for new businesses.

We also have a dedicated Business Growth Team that works with local Wellington businesses. Check out their advice for starting a business in Wellington.

Relevant newsletters

To keep up-to-date on what is going on in Wellington and the tourism industry, make sure you sign up to these newsletters:

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Please get in touch with us if you are starting a tourism business or bringing a new tourism experience to Wellington.

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