Tourism businesses tend to operate in unique environments and situations. The services they offer often include activities that involve risk - from selling alcohol to running bungee jumps or boat trips. As such, licences or similar formalities are often required to make sure tourism businesses are run safely.
Do I need any licences for my tourism business?
The licences you’ll need depend on what exactly your business does and on when and where it operates. Some common licences that tourism businesses may need include:
a street trading licence - if your business sells things (eg souvenirs) on the street, you’ll need a street trading licence. You’ll also need a street trading licence if you:
only sell tickets on the street (eg tickets to your tours)
sell services (eg a tour service or a guided adventure activity)
a premises licence for activities - this may be necessary if you show films or music as part of a tourist attraction
an alcohol licence (ie a ‘premises licence’) and food business registration - these licences may be relevant if your tourism business wants to, for example, offer its customers a drink or a meal during a tour. If you sell (or even give away) any alcoholic drinks, you’ll need a licence. There are different licensing options available, depending on who is selling alcohol and in what situations. You’ll need a food business registration if you give your customers food
an adventure activities licence - if you’re running certain outdoor adventure activities for people under 18 years old. This includes various water activities or trekking. For example, sea kayaking or hill walking a distance away from assistance
a pleasure boats licence - if you’re hiring out boats to people, or carrying up to 12 people on a boat, you’ll likely need a pleasure boats licence. If you run a business carrying more than 12 people, you may need a small commercial vessel certificate. You should also check whether you need a licence for any activities you run, such as diving
You can usually apply to your local council for any licences you need.
Do I or my employees need any licences?
Employees of your tourism business may also need to hold some licences. For example, premises that sell alcohol usually need to have an individual who holds a personal licence to act as a supervisor.
If you run tours, you may choose for your employees to have (or to obtain) the White, Green, or Blue Badge tour guide qualifications. Certifications like this can reassure customers as to the quality of your business’ tours.
If you run a business on a boat, you may need a boatmaster’s licence.
Your tourism business may need various other licences, depending on the kinds of activities you run. You can use the Government’s licence finder to investigate what you may need.