Do you live in a city with lots of tourists and want to make money on the side? If YES, here are 50 profitable small business ideas for tourist towns. The truth is that there are several business ideas that an entrepreneur can leverage on to make wealth in a town that is a major tourist destination.
What is a Tourist Town?
A tourist town is an urban area where tourism or vacationing is the primary component of the local culture and economy. This area usually consists of all the services and infrastructure necessary for the stay of a specific tourist or tourism segment.
Tourist towns usually have a relatively small population, but this population tends to grow exponentially during the summer due to tourists. These towns are usually located close to many major places of interest and it may contain one or more tourist attractions and possibly some tourist traps (low quality tourist areas with overpriced goods and services).
The tourism industry generates substantial economic benefits to both host countries and tourists’ home countries. One of the primary motivations for a region to promote itself as a tourism destination is the expected economic improvement.
According to the World Tourism Organization, 698 million people traveled to a foreign country in 2000, spending more than US$478 billion.
Towns that have natural beauty such as beaches, tropical island resorts, national parks, mountains, deserts and forests, are examples of tourist towns where people can spend summer vacations. If you live in an area that is considered a tourist town, your best bet at financial freedom is to start a business.
With the constant influx of people during certain periods in the year, a business set up in such a town is destined to fly. If you are looking for a business that can succeed in a tourist town, here are 50 of them for you to choose from.
Business ideas for Tourist Towns
1. Shuttle service
People who visit tourist towns would need a means to get around. Providing this facility is a must and one can capitalize on this demand since it is very essential. You can also offer local sightseeing packages since there are many locations your clients would want to visit.
2. Rental shop
A store that rents out scooters, bikes, bicycles and boats is a good business to start in a tourist town. Providing items at competitive rates and with group discounts is a way to earn money.
Distributing pamphlets, sticking notices and effective advertising which catches the eye of commuters are very crucial in marketing the business. Also quality, make and type of vehicles play an important role in making decisions, so ensure you have good qualities in stock.
3. Cruise service
If your tourist town has a beach, then you can start offering cruise services where you can treat tourists to a luxurious lifestyle. This is a high investment based business though. For those who love meals on water, dinner cruises can be started with great lighting systems and good music.
Pricing is pivotal here as there is competition in this field. One should effectively market and create customized packages for target populations.
4. Gift shop
People that visit tourist towns usually take back souvenirs with them. A souvenir or memento shop where one can buy gifts for people back home is a really good business to set up in a tourist town. What one can do here to stand out from the prevalent competition is to create customized stuff based on choice to customers.
You can start this business with very low investment. Also, it has very high profit margin. Try to differentiate yourself from other tourist shops by offering authentic merchandise instead of only selling generic items such as T-shirts, key chains, and mugs.
If you can, offer items made by local artists and crafters like artisan jewelry; postcards made from art prints by local artists; music CDs of local bands etc. To add more revenue to your business, launch a website where customers can buy more gifts later. By selling your merchandise online, you can reach people all over the world, and market your business to future tourists.
5. Surf shop
This is another business that can function well in a town with a beach. A lot of tourists who may want to surf may not have come along with their surfing gear, especially the board. One can make money by opening a surf shop that stocks various equipment required for the activity.
Having a shop that rents such equipment will help. Also one can deliver these items in resorts or private villas at a pre-mentioned price.
6. Build and rent hostels
Hostels provide budget-oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and sometimes a kitchen. These are affordable options that work best on small tracts of land.
They cater to mostly youth and those looking for budget travel options. Pricing is very important here as there is competition and also one has to offer allied facilities like wifi, food, walking tours etc. to capitalize on the business. The facility has to be extremely hygienic in order to attract tourists.
Photo booths are everywhere now and still they promise good business. With tourists milling around your town, a good way to make some money off them is to start a photo booth. Cute props with catchy slogans and one liners with an enchanting backdrop and use them as background. With selfies ruling the world, photo booths create fun filled moments with delicate layering of memories.
8. Start a destination wedding service
A popular trend for adventurous couples is destination weddings, or getting married in a faraway location. One of the most sought-after destination wedding locations are tourist towns that feature pristine lakes and scenic views, making a destination wedding service a smart business to start.
You can offer wedding planning, or help couples who decide to get married on the spur of the moment during a vacation to get the necessary paperwork they need including an officiant, a location, photographers etc.
Another business that an entrepreneur can successfully launch in a tourist town is a seafood restaurant. This type of business would be highly profitable in your region if your town is near a water body. If you are a skilled chef, you can whip up very delicious and unique seafood dishes that people cannot resist.
From tender sushi to lobster dishes and even shrimp kebabs, you can give everyone a taste of their favorites and even something more.
10. Boat cleaning business
Some tourist towns are blessed with a lot of water bodies and people take good advantage of these water bodies by engaging in a lot of water activities. Because boats would always get dirty, you can start a boat cleaning service to help the owners clean their boats after each trip.
The world is filled with exercise buffs who would want to stay fit wherever they are. This then means that a fitness center is a necessity no matter where. If you are a certified fitness trainer and you live in a tourist town, you can open a fitness center to take care of both visitors and locals that are very conscious about their health.
12. Start a bird guide/tour company
Because of the different species of birds that can be found in some tourist towns, you can start a bird guide or bird touring company to take visitors on tours to watch the birds in their natural habitats. You can start small at first and just offer bird tours where you guide visitors to some great bird watching spots that people would likely not find on their own.
Book everyone yourself, take care of everything yourself until the idea catches on and you have too many customers to handle all alone. You can then hire guides and start selling the package with travel agencies on commission basis.
With tourist towns welcoming loads of people at certain times of the year, there is always a guarantee for mess. If you enjoy working outdoors, then this business would pay you well. You can make a pretty good income cleaning up litter outside hotels, resorts, parks etc, especially for businesses that have large parking lots that need regular cleaning.
You can contact property management companies and intimate them of your services and request to be hired. This service can be carried out on foot using inexpensive equipment like pick-up tools and a broom. You can charge between $35 and $50 per hour for your services.
It is a fact that people would always eat wherever they find themselves, and tourists may not have the time or inclination to cook their own meals. You can take advantage of this bounty by opening a restaurant. You do not have to open a large location if you do not have the finances and sponsorship.
You can instead offer intimate dining for select customers. The key to success in this business is offering tropical cuisine as opposed to other specialties. Another option is to open a bakery that serves traditional breads, pastries and desserts.
15. Open a fresh fruits mart
Another fantastic business idea that is suitable for a tourist town is a fresh fruits mart. A lot of people today are particular about what they eat and are very likely to patronize your fruits mart to balance out their diets that may consist mostly of finger foods.
The truth is that once people are able to get fruits that are out of season still fresh in your fruit mart, you will enjoy good patronage. If you can afford to, you can equally stock exotic fruits.
16. Ice Cream Business
Because tourist times are usually during the summer, Ice cream is one product that enjoys high patronage. If you are looking for a business to launch in your tourist town, then you should consider starting your own ice cream production company.
Just ensure that you have different outlets around different parts of town and you will sure make good returns on your investment. To maximize your profit, you can equally add an ice cream truck that can station itself in the various tourist locations in your town.
A water park is an amusement park that features water play areas such as swimming pools, water slides, splash pads, water playgrounds, and lazy rivers, as well as areas for bathing, swimming, and other barefoot environments.
Because of the hot and humid summer weather, water parks would be more attractive to tourists, even locals more than an ordinary amusement park. Though setting up a water park would prove very capital intensive, but you are sure to recoup your investments in a short while if you properly market your park and if your park has loads of really entertaining water facilities.
A beach hotel is a hotel overlooking a beach. Entrepreneurs see beaches as very scenic and profitable places to erect hotels. To build an appealing beach hotel, you should choose a land mass with beautiful settings of palm trees and where lodgers can view colorful sunsets.
Tourist towns if well-kept do draw tourists and fun seekers and all these people would need somewhere to lodge. The more picturesque your hotel is, the more likely for you to get bookings all years round.
Ensure that your rooms overlook lush tropical gardens, pools or green lawns, with the best rooms giving a view of the shimmering ocean. This is another capital intensive business that can only be carried out by established entrepreneurs.
Miniature golf, also known as mini golf is an offshoot of the sport of golf focusing solely on the putting aspect of its parent game. It is played on courses consisting of a series of holes (usually a multiple of 9) similar to its parent, but characterized by their short length (usually within 10 yards from tee to cup).
A mini golf course would be a great addition to a beach hotel, so you can approach a resort and strike a deal with the owners. After a deal has been taken out, you can build your mini golf with acceptable artificial materials. Golf players would not mind paying to use your course, and you can equally use it as a training ground for new players.
20. Start a waterslide center
With the heat and high humidity typically experienced in the summer, which is usually tourist season, people easily get drawn to water recreation. You can open a center where people can come to ride water slides.
There are different types of water slides, and to get tourists and locals coming back, you can pick the ones that are more entertaining. You can also include fast-food restaurants, bars, game centers to your water slide center so as to offer your visitors varieties of entertainment.
21. Start an ethnic eatery
Tourist towns get a lot of visitors all year round and these visitors come from different ethnic backgrounds. If you are a chef that lives in such a town, you can start an ethnic eatery to cater to the different types of ethnicities that visit your town.
You have to first conduct a survey to find out which ethnic group frequents your town so that you would not prepare meals that nobody would eat. You can equally serve food from two or three ethnic groups, or as much as you can handle. A lot of people who miss their traditional dishes will definitely love to patronize you.
Yoga is getting ever more popular, which means yoga centers are more in demand than ever before, thus making this another physically rewarding business idea for tropical islands. If you are a certified yoga instructor, you can open your own yoga center where you get to teach people this ancient art of relaxation and meditation. This business would surely pay your if you have the patience to grow your center.
Rent out your living quarters
Do you have a spare room or loft in your apartment, then you can make a comfortable business out of it in a tourist town. It is a fact that most people travel on a budget and as such cannot afford the exorbitant room fees being charged in hotels and resorts. You can start renting out spare rooms in your house for a small fee to visitors.
Not only is house renting a great way to make money, but you get to meet new and exciting people while you do it. Note that you are on call whenever you have a guest and you will always need to keep the place clean for your next visitors. On top of just renting, you can take this business idea to the next level by offering your guests add-on and personalized experiences like private tours for an extra charge.
A tour guide is a person who provides assistance and information on cultural, historical and contemporary heritage to people on organized tours. If you live in a town where travelers frequently visit and if you love meeting new people, starting your own local tour company is arguably the best business idea that will give you both of those perks.
You can comfortably start guiding people on tours while still working your own full time job. If you have a trusty van or vehicle, you can arrange to take people to tour the town at your convenience. Tourist towns always have places to explore, so you should ensure you know these places and maybe a little history about them.
A travel agency is a private retailer or public service that provides travel and tourism related services to the public on behalf of suppliers such as airlines, car rentals, cruise lines, hotels, railways, travel insurance etc. A travel agency is one good business to set up in a tourist town because it is a place that witnesses a lot of travel and tourism activities. You can help tourists arrange their trips, accommodation and tours for the duration of their stay.
Build an Airport Hotel
An airport hotel is a hotel near the airport. This hotel does not have to be connected to the airport (although some are) or even located adjacent to it. As a complimentary service, most airport hotels have a shuttle to and from the terminals. These types of hotels typically target business clientele, airline passengers with overnight travel layovers or cancelled flights and airline crews or staff.
Some hotels might give free transport between hotels and they tend to charge guests by the hour instead of normal daily night charges. With tourist always trouping into town, they would more likely lodge in your airport hotel, at least for the first few days or hours.
Start a parent help agency
Parents usually have a full hand while travelling with their children, and having to also look after several boxes of luggage would definitely stress them out. You can start a parent help agency that can help parents transport their luggage, while they just go with their children.
The idea behind this business is allowing parents to leave behind all their luggage in your care; then you can just order them online and deliver the items to your client’s holiday destination, thus making traveling lighter and easier.
Open a steam bathing center
One other business that can thrive in a tourist town is a steam bathing center. A steam bath is a steam-filled room that is used for relaxation and cleansing. Having regular steam baths is said to provide a variety of health and beauty benefits, and it is suitable for almost anyone.
It is a fact that anyone who goes on vacation would like to take advantage of the period to relax and as such they are always eager to go for a steam bath. In order to supply this necessity, you can open your own steam bath if you are familiar with the essentials.
To make your business profitable, you can choose to locate it next to a hotel or resort, and you can also arrange with the management of the hotel or resort to make it part of the services they offer their clients when they pay to stay at the hotel or resort, so your money can be deducted by the hotel and paid to you.
A craft is an activity involving skill in making things by hand. If you have any artistic skills or crafty hobbies, you might just have one of the essential building blocks of a successful business, especially if you reside in a tourist location because visitors always value indigenous crafts.
If you have accumulated quite a number of handmade crafts, you can set up a small shop in the city shopping center where you get to sell your crafts. You can also approach other crafts people and offer to market their products too.
Organize fishing tours
Does your tourist town have a water body? If it does, then you have a niche business in your hands. Most tourists like to engage in the fishing activities when they happen to be in a fishing town. If you have a boat and are business savvy, you could turn this activity into a money spinner by offering fishing tour services and taking tourists out to the reef.
This will really be beneficial to your business especially if you have unique fishing spots that tourists would love. You need to be smart in this business, and ensure that you are always on the lookout for special spots.
Start a translation service
Speaking French, German, Polish, Japanese or any other language for that matter, and then assisting natives of those countries, could be a lucrative little venture. Having a reliable translation service would help people be more relaxed wherever they are.
Another way of selling your services is to translate brochures, documents, menus and even websites into other languages for local hotels and restaurants.
Private escort firms provide security for individuals most especially tourists and other kinds of visitors who would want to move from one location to another with valuables, which could involve cash, jewelry, art and other of such kind of valuables.
Before you start up this business though, you have to make enquiries about the various licenses and permits you would need. However, this is a business that is guaranteed to bring you good income in a tourist town.
Open an online lodge booking site
This is another fantastic business idea that can bring in a good income. Tourists often require a place to stay, and most are comfortable booking for their lodging before they arrive. You would need to network with lodges, bed and breakfast places, hotels, motels and so on, to get them listed on your site.
To do this business and make money, you would need to agree on a commission or percentage that you will get once a customer books for lodging through your site. You would need to massively advertise your site to both lodges and customers.
Another great idea is to offer door to door luggage delivery for travelers and tourists. This helps tourists with bulk luggage to go directly to their hotels without going through the hassle of waiting for their luggage. You get to collect these luggages and deliver them straight to the hotel rooms of your customers. This is another business idea that is suitable for a tourist town and would not cost you an arm and a leg to set up.
It is a known fact that people cannot do without their daily coffee fix. Create homemade cakes, buns and breakfasts, and pair these feasts with fresh hot coffee or cocoa drinks, to entice both visitors and locals alike. Memorabilia and a stylish décor will enhance the experience, and these venues can also be used to host networking events and live music/arts.
Give Eco tours
Ecotourism is traveling and visiting new unexplored places that protect the environment and also looks after the welfare of the local people residing in that area. Ecotourism is one of the great choices for nature lovers who also love adventure travel.
Ecotourism business industry makes up 6% of the GDP all over the world, and you can start this business with minimal capital. Just ensure you are familiar with these tourist destinations, and you are able to publicize the business.
Hookah bars have become very popular in recent times, and tourists, even locals are always attracted to them. This is one hospitality business that comes alive in the evening. Because of its novelty, people see it as a way to hang out with friends.
A truly passionate entrepreneur can initiate a hookah bar lounge business with strategic planning and substantial capital investment.
Nothing speaks tourism as a place where people can let down their hair and dance the night away. The stress relief gotten from clubs makes it a must in a tourist town. In fact, tourist towns thrive a lot on nightlife. You can set up a club where you serve the choicest drinks and meals, and where the DJ is not lacking in his or her duties. This would sure give you a good name in the industry.
A laundry service is a company which does laundry for its clients, and what better place to set up a laundry service than a tourist town where loads of people that would be visiting would not want to be bothered about dirty laundry.
You can even take visitors as your major clients, and print flyers and drop in places where you know they particularly lodge. You can offer pickup and delivery services in order to further appeal to customers and to stand out from other laundry services.
Open a community museum
If you love arts and culture, and your town has a lot of history that is worth sharing, you should consider starting a community museum, a place where the art and culture of your community can be preserved. Many tourists are bound to visit such museums whilst on vacation.
Apart from the revenue that this business will generate from visitors and tourists, your business will also receive grants and funding from individuals, donor agencies, corporate organizations, as well as the government.
These small inns are a great business idea for any historic homeowner. Because tourist towns usually have accommodation issues, a bed and breakfast is perfect for such a place.
This business might cost a bundle to start especially if you have to build your bed and breakfast, but if you have a town house that can serve this purpose; you can by all means use it. If your B&B is very homely and hospitable, you would be booked all round.
You would have to travel far and wide to find a tourist town that did not have either plenty of children or plenty of sweet-toothed adults.
Candy stores can offer any number of opportunities for entrepreneurs: they can include a soda fountain and ice cream parlor, they can showcase a candy artisan’s homemade work, they can offer sugar free, organic, gluten free, or other diet sensitive treats, they can offer coffee treats for those who prefer a little caffeine with their sugar, or they can share space with an old-fashioned lunch counter. The possibilities are nearly endless.
Women that visit tourist towns would always like to look their best, especially for that special event, so a salon is a must-have in a tourist town. Opening a salon does require specific training—either your own or your employees’.
However, consider the fact that the training could be as simple as learning how to handle nail care, or as elaborate as learning hair styling, massage, waxing, and many other high-end procedures for a more spa-like salon. Salons can fit whatever needs a particular community might have.
While souvenir shops usually abound in tourist towns, offering something unique or unusual can help set this type of business apart.
Consider carrying goods by local artists, handmade keepsakes reminiscent of the area or gift items in line with the town’s main attractions. Price items competitively and offer shipping options for tourists who don’t want to pack and transport items home with them.
Open a pizzeria
With 93% of Americans consuming pizza at least once a month, it’s no surprise that pizza shops are one of the most popular types of restaurants. In fact, pizza has become an acceptable meal for tourists who have no time to whip up meals of their own.
Opening a pizzeria can be a great investment, especially when you’ve prepared it correctly. If you’re wondering how to open a pizza shop, your first priority should be coming up with delectable recipes and deciding what types of pizza you want to feature on your menu.
Open an Adventure club
When people are on holiday, they usually throw caution to the wind and would likely try something they would never think of doing on a normal day.
Well, some people. You can take advantage of this knowledge to start an adventure club where you can offer activities like skydiving, trekking, river rafting, kayaking etc. If your local destination offers a feasible environment for these activities, then consider to open an adventure club there.
Tourists who either travel through planes or trains need transport from airports and railway stations to hotels and vice versa. Keeping this need in mind, you may want to start a shuttle service business that luckily doesn’t need more than a vehicle in good condition, driving skills, and a driving license. It can also be operated on a part-time basis.
A vape shop is a retail store or website specializing in the selling of electronic cigarette products. Vape shops can offer a greater selection of e-cigarettes than conventional retailers and they offer mostly reusable e-cigarettes. This business would catch-on greatly in a tourist town because people are out to explore new things and indulge. One of your biggest expenses in this business is your inventory. You would need starter kits, mods, parts, e-liquids, etc.
This can add up very fast, but you don’t want to skimp on that, because after all, that’s your primary product and the entire reason people will visit your store. Before you start it however, you have to note the state laws in your location and equally note your requirements.
Canoe and Kayak Rentals
Well, establishing as canoe and kayak rental business is undoubtedly a wonderful opportunity for those individuals who are located next to water bodies which are popular for recreational day trips.
Yet another business you can start in a tourist town is a limousine service. Offer limousine service to transport travelers and tourists (especially the celebrities) from one place to another.