How to start a tourism business in South Africa

How to start a tourism business in South Africa

People love to travel, go to new places to experience different cultures and ways of life. A business in the tourism sector can be very lucrative. This is a guide on how to start a tourism business in South Africa.

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Over 17 million people visit South Africa each year, tourists are often very willing to spend money in order to get great experiences. Combine this with the number of local tourists, people who visit other provinces and you have over 20 million people per year. That’s more than a quarter of our entire population.

There is a lot of money to be made in the tourism sector. Barriers to entry depend on what your niche is, tourism is a sector and within that sector there are different types of businesses. Tourism contributes over R130Billion to the GDP of South Africa. This is a massive industry that is rich with opportunities.

Choose a niche

You can’t possibly start a tourism business that does everything right off the bat, you have to choose what you will focus on. This makes it easier to concentrate your efforts and provide excellent service to your tourists.

Here are some tourism business ideas.

1. Restaurant and Bar

You can open a restaurant or bar that offers regional/local food, most tourists want to taste the food of wherever they’re touring to. Food is one of the quickest ways to gain access into the tourism sector.

2. Vehicle rental or transportation

Tourists will definitely need something to get them around, assuming that they are from other countries. Offering transportation services is one of the easiest ways to benefit from the tourism sector. Make sure that your services are highly targeted towards tourists.

3. Museum

Opening a museum can be very expensive but it’s a very good way to attract tourists and the high barriers to entry mean that you won’t have competition. You can showcase the art and history of your area (especially if your area is rich in history) but art like sculptures and painting should work just fine.

4. Nightclub

Most tourists will want to experience the nightlife of the area that there are visiting, especially if the tourists love nightlife. There are some cities in the world that are very popular for their bustling nightlife and they attract millions of tourists.

5. Travel blogger/influencer

This is a very good way to make money with very little barriers to entry. But little barriers to entry mean that you will have to excel before getting recognition. You can start a travel blog that focuses on everything tourism related in your area.

This is where tourists will find all the information about your area, you can also become a travel influencer.

6. Accommodation

Offering accommodation is perhaps the best way to benefit from the tourism industry, you can do this by owning a hotel, a lodge, B&B or Airbnb. Tourists need a place to sleep, doesn’t matter if they are coming from another country or province. Your stream of income is also very predictable.

The right location

All of these ideas require you to be situated in the right location, you have to be in an area that attracts a lot of tourists. Always try to be in the very centre of the action, unless it’s accommodation, accommodation can be on the outskirts and people will still manage to get to it.

These are a very few ideas, there are over 50 niches that you can focus on in tourism. Do more research if you are not interested in the ideas listed above.


This was a guide on how to start a tourism business in South Africa. Do you have any thoughts or questions? Comment below.

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