40 Travel and Hospitality Business Ideas

From providing lodging to leading guided tours, the opportunities for success in the travel and hospitality industry are numerous. Your potential business can take many different forms as the commodities of traveling are multifaceted and broad.

Whatever your motivation for wanting to begin your entrepreneurial journey into the world of travel and hospitality, we have an excellent list of travel business ideas to help you get started.

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Best Travel and Hospitality Business Ideas for 2020

1. AIRBNB BUSINESS

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An Airbnb business supplies guests with a place to stay within a person’s home. Many travelers are looking for lodging which is a little more personal and unique. Airbnb rentals offer a home feel, versus that of a hotel or motel. Guests may stay as short as one or two days or extended stays up to two weeks.

An Airbnb is a great way to add some extra income, especially if you have unused rooms or lots of space in your house. You will have guests staying in your home, so you should be comfortable talking and interacting with guests. Some homeowners, who travel often, will also rent out their homes when they are out of town. This allows them to receive income and have someone watching their home when they’re not around.

Learn how to start an Airbnb business.

2. AIRPORT SHUTTLE BUSINESS

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Airport shuttles transport people between the airport and either their homes, hotels, or where they parked their cars. Airport shuttles are used by business travelers, groups, families, and solo riders. The driver picks travelers up at a predetermined location and drops them off wherever necessary; typically with no more than two stops on each route. Vehicles are generally spacious, with ample room for riders to store their luggage.

Individuals possessing the drive to start their own travel business and the inclination to interact with people would be best suited for this business endeavor. Since much time is spent on the road, the entrepreneur that enjoys driving would be the ideal candidate.

Learn how to start an airport shuttle business.

3. AMUSEMENT PARK

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Amusement, or theme, parks feature rides, games, and entertainment options in an outdoor or indoor venue. Customers typically pay a single entry fee for access to the entire park. The successful amusement park model focuses on the customer's entire experience, offering a wide range of services and entertainment options including parking, trams, restaurant options, water parks, roller coasters, live animal attractions, stage shows, arcade games, attractive interactive landscaping, and family-friendly fun. The larger the property you own, the more entertainment choices you are able to offer your customers.

You must be a highly motivated individual ready to sink a large initial investment into the concept, design, and implementation of your amusement park. You may need extensive knowledge in the operation of rides, restaurant and guest services, landscaping design, business practices, and have significant leadership skills.

Learn how to start an amusement park.

4. BED AND BREAKFAST

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A bed and breakfast business offers travelers an alternative to hotels and motels, by combining sleeping quarters with a full breakfast. Most bed and breakfasts also promise more unique, intimate settings than other lodging options.

Anyone who enjoys hosting others may be well-suited for owning a bed and breakfast business because guests come to B&Bs for a level of hospitality that hotels and motels don’t provide. Business owners should like talking with people, cooking meals, and making guests feel comfortable.

Learn how to start a bed and breakfast.

5. BIKE RENTAL BUSINESS

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Bike rental businesses give customers—who are often, but not necessarily, tourists—bicycles for a short period. Bikes are generally rented for a few hours to recreationally explore the locality. But the customer base might also consist of college students on campus or others who rent for practical reasons. Your business might be a freestanding shop, part of a bike sales and service operation or associated with a hotel or other hospitality business.

Bike rental business owners should be mechanically adept since customers can be hard on bikes. Also, since bikes are often rented to explore the immediate area, you should be highly familiar with your home base and able to suggest tourist attractions. You should have an engaging personality and be motivated to deliver exceptional customer service.

Learn how to start a bike rental business.

6. BIKE TOUR COMPANY

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Do you love exploring your home town or popular tourist destinations on your bike? Does it really make your day when you bring a friend along to see the sights? Operating a bike tour company may be right up your alley. Whether you are simply renting bicycles and maps for patrons to use on their own or providing week-long personalized guided tours that include meals and lodging, this can be a rewarding travel business.

If you are going to run a one-man show, you will need to be physically fit, have fantastic people skills, and enjoy managing the many facets of your business. If you are operating a large tourist attraction, the right owner will have a good background in business management with a focus on the service industry.

Learn how to start a bike tour company.

7. BOUTIQUE TOUR BUSINESS

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This travel business idea differs from a traditional tour guide service in that the focus is not on the popular tourist destinations. Instead, it focuses more on unique and special experiences. Both local residents and tourists enjoy these types of tours/parties.

People like to do things that feel more authentic and consistent with what locals do versus just taking a sightseeing tour to see the major attractions. These can be very active experiences such as hiking, climbing, bungee-jumping, flying down a wire cable over the tree canopy, whitewater rafting and so much more. Many prefer such active experiences when compared to the traditional bus tours where tour guides describe things as the bus passes them by.

Learn how to start a boutique tour business.

8. BUS TOUR BUSINESS

Bus Tour Business image

A bus tour business provides tours for tourists as well as locals. Tours of scenic and historical areas and other sites of interest are a valuable community service. Bus tours connect people with others for a shared experience. They also educate people about historical landmarks, local history, geography and other important aspects of your city and the surrounding area.

If you are looking to give people the opportunity to learn more about a locale while enjoying the company of others, a bus tour business is right for you. This is your chance to bring people closer together. Bus tours also enhance understanding and respect for cities, towns, landmarks and special sites. Bus tour customers gain a new appreciation for the area in which the tour is conducted.

Learn how to start a bus tour business.

9. CAMPGROUND

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If you love the outdoors and some hard work, you could start a campground business. Whether you have land or are purchasing land, you could start enjoying the great outdoors and working for yourself as soon as you get everything set up. You'll provide a place for people who are passing through on their way to another destination and for those who want to enjoy some time connecting with nature. Campers use all sorts of shelters from tents to fully contained RVs.

Before you start a campground business, you'll need the knowledge and willingness it takes to do many things, including accounting, repairs, road maintenance, plumbing, electrical maintenance, and management. You may be able to farm some of these things out, but it is much more cost-effective to do these things yourself.

Learn how to start a campground.

10. CANOE & KAYAK RENTAL BUSINESS

Canoe and Kayak Rental Business image

Many people enjoy being on the water, but they either do not own a boat or want to go boating where they can't bring theirs. A canoe and kayak rental business lets people rent canoes and kayaks to take out on nearby waterways. Customers can take canoes out for as little as an hour or as long as a day or more.

Anyone who enjoys canoeing and kayaking may be well-suited to open a canoe and kayak rental business. Business owners also must be strong enough to move canoes and kayaks onshore.

Learn how to start a canoe & kayak rental business.

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11. CAR RENTAL BUSINESS

Car Rental Business image

Another one of many travel business ideas is a car rental company. A car rental business rents vehicles at affordable daily and weekly prices. All sorts of different parties are interested in car rentals. Common customers include business and leisure travelers, those whose vehicles are out of commission and businesses.

This business is ideal for someone who has a sincere interest in automobiles, automobile maintenance, and the driving experience.

Learn how to start a car rental business.

12. CORPORATE RETREAT CENTER

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Many companies take employees on retreats for training, development, and team-building experiences. Corporate retreat center businesses offer a place for holding these company-sponsored retreats and frequently help companies plan their retreats.

Anyone who is organized and has strong interpersonal skills may enjoy running a corporate retreat center business. Hosting retreats requires balancing many different tasks, and there’s a constant conversation between the retreat center and the company sponsoring the retreat.

Learn how to start a corporate retreat center.

13. CRUISE LINE

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A cruise line has one or several large boats designed to accommodate numerous fun-seeking individuals. This business is centered on providing guests with a good time. Cruise liners are a place for relaxation, socialization, and romance. Cruises are in-demand as they provide people with a fun and relaxing means of vacationing. Cruise lines offer all sorts of social activities on and off the ship. This business is a fantastic way to bring people closer to one another, bolster social ties, and provide people with a sense of belonging.

This is the ideal business or someone who is looking for a way to bring people together for a fun, rewarding and memorable experience. If you are a hospitable individual and enjoy providing people with a good time, you should consider starting a cruise line business. Furthermore, if you enjoy life on the water, good food and entertainment, a cruise ship business is worth considering.

Learn how to start a cruise line.

14. DAY SPA

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Day spas provide a relaxing atmosphere and a variety of treatments designed to refresh and rejuvenate. Some of the most common services offered by smaller day spas are facials, massages, manicures and pedicures, waxing, electrolysis, and aromatherapy. Larger day spas with more complex facilities are able to offer additional options such as body wraps, mud baths, or hydrotherapy treatments.

This hospitality business is ideal for those who enjoy relating with people on a personal level to provide services that reduce stress, enhance beauty, and improve health.

Learn how to start a day spa.

15. ECOTOUR BUSINESS

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Ecotourism is small scale, low impact tourism that offers travelers an opportunity to learn about the local flora, fauna, and culture. Unlike your standard tour guide service, the focus of ecotourism is to educate guests on how they can positively impact the environment and community they’re visiting. Tourists are able to immerse themselves in the culture and habitat, gaining an understanding of the positive impact each can have on the other. Ecological sustainability and responsibility are the heart of this educating and rewarding experience.

As many consumers ponder the environmental impact humans have had on our environment, there are many who have taken it upon themselves to get out and do something about it. They’ve made it their life’s mission to make positive strides, educating others along the way. Entrepreneurs who have made this their lives’ work and who truly enjoy igniting this passion in others would be best suited for this travel business venture.

Learn how to start an ecotour business.

16. FISHING CHARTER BUSINESS

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Many people enjoy fishing, but few people have boats, tackle, and knowledge to go fishing far from shore. Fishing charter businesses take people on fishing trips that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to experience. These trips may range from going into swamps to venturing far offshore. Customers are usually allowed to keep any fish that they catch (assuming the fish are legal to keep).

Anyone who is passionate about fishing and enjoys sharing that passion with other people may be well-suited for running a fishing charter business. Customers expect fishing charter captains to be knowledgeable about and have a love for fishing, and sharing that knowledge and love helps ensure customers have a great time.

Learn how to start a fishing charter business.

17. GLAMPING BUSINESS

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A glamping business is next on our comprehensive list of travel startup ideas. Glamping, or "glamorous camping," has taken England by storm and is quickly becoming popular within the United States. Although there aren’t any official statistics for glamping in the U.S., industry insiders have seen a big increase in demand recently. For entrepreneurs, this demand represents an exciting opportunity.

People who enjoy connecting with others and being outdoors may enjoy running a glamping business. Interpersonal skills are necessary because much of the business involves making guests feel welcome. A passion for the outdoors is helpful, for glamping is largely about connecting with nature.

Learn how to start a glamping business.

18. GOLF COURSE

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Golf courses provide these people with a place to play the sport. Most courses are 9 or 18 holes, and they may have other amenities, such as clubhouses and pro shops. Anyone who is well-versed in a variety of aspects of business and enjoys golfing themselves may be qualified to run a golf course.

It’s important to have a broad business background because golf courses are multi-faceted businesses. Running one might include course maintenance, employee management, restaurant service, event hosting, and investment opportunities.

Learn how to start a golf course.

19. HAUNTED ATTRACTION

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A haunted thrill park is any space designed to entice customers by offering a scary or thrilling experience. Americans spend about $7 billion on Halloween, and $300 million on haunted houses. Haunted thrill parks may be located in makeshift, temporary houses, corn mazes, or even old prisons or asylums. Typically, workers will dress up in costumes and pop out at customers to give them a fright. Props such as fake chainsaws or straight jackets are often used alongside fog machines and soundtracks of creepy noises.

There is an art to scaring people while keeping them safe, so an entrepreneur will have to coordinate the right scenes while ensuring workers understand how to handle the guests. Those who already have a love of haunted houses likely understand what's currently out there, and what people would like to see in the future.

Learn how to start a haunted attraction.

20. HELICOPTER TOUR BUSINESS

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A helicopter tour business takes customers on short flights so they can view their city from a bird's-eye view. This is typically marketed as a more expensive service for a more adventurous clientele, and it adds a touch of excitement to any community.

This business is ideal for those already licensed to fly a helicopter, as there is a significant investment of time and money required to acquire a license. As such, it typically makes a good business for retired military personnel. Aside from a knowledge of helicopters, one of the best qualities for this business is to be a “people person,” as you must be able to charm customers before, during, and after the flight.

Learn how to start a helicopter tour business.

21. HOTEL BUSINESS

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A hotel can be any commercial building that charges money to travelers who need a room to stay. This can be anything from a standard multi-unit building to luxury stand-alone villas. As airline prices drop and the economy improves, corporate and personal travel continues to increase. The hotel industry generated just under $200 billion in revenue in 2016.

This startup idea is good for someone who enjoys the hospitality business. Those who run hotels have to be adept at catering to a number of different needs, so an owner will need to be flexible when it comes to how they respond to different travelers and consistent when it comes to delivering unparalleled customer service. From business travelers to young families, each guest will have their own priorities when it comes to where they stay.

Learn how to start a hotel business.

22. HOUSE-SITTING BUSINESS

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House sitting is a service offered to customers who are out of town or otherwise away from the home. House sitters may look after pets, plants, or just the home itself. House sitters help the community in a number of ways. They can ward off criminals by simply being in the house, and they keep cats and dogs from having to be put into kennels.

This business is good for those who want to maintain people’s homes while they’re away. Ideally, house sitters should be animal lovers who know how to take care of a variety of different types of dogs and cats.

Learn how to start a house-sitting business.

23. KENNEL BUSINESS

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Many dog owners, for a variety of reasons, don’t bring their dogs with them on trips. A kennel business gives dog owners a safe place to leave their dogs while they’re away. At a kennel, dogs have a safe place to rest, are fed and get exercise.

Anyone who loves dogs may be well-suited for owning a kennel business, as most of the work involves taking care of dogs. Owners often have to play with dogs, and they sometimes need to physically move stubborn pooches. Therefore, owners should be in decent physical condition.

Learn how to start a kennel business.

24. MARINA

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Boat owners need a place to keep their boats, both during the boating season and the off-season. While some boats can be kept on a trailer and launched, other vessels cannot -- and even boaters who have trailerable vessels often don’t want to have to launch and take out their boat every time they go out on the water.

A marina business offers boaters a place to keep their boats, docking or mooring them in the water during the boating season, and storing them on land for the rest of the year.

Learn how to start a marina.

25. PARTY BUS BUSINESS

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One more of several popular travel business ideas is a party bus business. A party bus business will transport people for major events, so they don’t have to worry about the logistics of getting from place to place. While people on the bus are generally invited to consume alcohol (if they're of age), party buses don’t necessarily have to offer adult beverages as a part of their business model.

This business is excellent for someone who understands both the large and small aspects of major events. Clients want to be able to relax and feel as though they're taken care of, so they need someone who is confident in making decisions quickly and being able to think on the fly in the face of potential hiccups or even outright emergencies.

Learn how to start a party bus business.

26. PET-SITTING BUSINESS

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Pet sitting businesses offer pet owners a variety of animal care services, including exercising their pets while they are at work. They also provide an affordable alternative to boarding pets at a kennel during vacations or business trips. Being able to remain in their own home environment can reduce separation anxiety for both pets and their owners.

This is a great business idea for animal lovers who enjoy walking and staying active. It’s ideal for people who prefer lower stress levels, since spending time with pets has been shown to reduce stress. Those who are compassionate and responsible, yet prefer to work alone and be their own bosses as well as make their own schedules thrive in this type of business.

Learn how to start a pet-sitting business.

27. SCOOTER RENTAL BUSINESS

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A scooter rental business offers customers a fun and affordable option for short-term transportation. For most, scooters can be rented with hourly, half-day, and whole day rates.

If you have experience in retail sales or product rentals, knowledge of small engines, a strong work ethic, and a business mind, a scooter rental business could be your ticket to financial independence. Especially if you have a background in scooters and motorcycles—either as a rider, enthusiast, or from working in a motorbike retail business—your expertise could set you apart from the competition.

Learn how to start a scooter rental business.

28. SCUBA DIVING BUSINESS

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Scuba diving affords an unparalleled experience with the underwater world. However, safe diving requires training, equipment, and often a guide. Scuba diving businesses provide divers with the training, equipment, and local knowledge they need to have a fun and safe time underwater.

While scuba diving businesses can generate sizable profits, most business owners don’t get into this type of work solely for the financial return on investment. Instead, they’re passionate scuba divers themselves and are drawn to the scuba lifestyle. They like the idea of making money doing a sport they love.

Learn how to start a scuba diving business.

29. SKI RESORT

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Ski resorts are one of the main places people go for wintertime fun. Resorts offer skiing, snowboarding, equipment rentals and lessons. Many resorts also have concessions, a restaurant, a bar, and other amenities.

Someone with a diverse skillset and background in business may be well-suited for running a ski resort business. The multi-faceted nature of ski resorts requires knowledge of multiple aspects of running a business. For instance, running a ski resort business might include equipment maintenance, snowmaking decisions, concession management, and program creation.

Learn how to start a ski resort.

30. SKYDIVING BUSINESS

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Customers of skydiving businesses receive access to the complete experience, either in tandem with an experienced jumper or solo. The entertainment package includes the airplane ride, all equipment, landing site—also known as the dropzone or DZ—and the leadership/coaching of a jumpmaster. Other products or services might also be offered through the business, from parachute training before the jump to photography or video production of the jump.

Most people who would consider starting such a business are experienced jumpers, but that’s not mandatory. You should, at a minimum, feel comfortable convincing partners or investors and officials of the wisdom of your plans and your skydiving business’ value to the community.

Learn how to start a skydiving business.

31. SNORKELING BUSINESS

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A snorkeling business will typically sell or rent out various safety gear and snorkeling equipment to water-lovers of all ages. These travel businesses can also offer tours to their customers in addition to or instead of a physical store location.

Owners should ideally have an inherent love of the water, so they can introduce their passion for exploration to new generations of snorkelers. They should also enjoy working with people who may not know very much about how to use the equipment.

Learn how to start a snorkeling business.

32. SOUVENIR SHOP

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As the owner of a souvenir shop, you’ll stock your retail store, cart or kiosk with an inventory of interest to tourists. Your offerings will reflect the demographics and socioeconomic strata of the market. For instance, if you’re at a vacation destination that draws young families, you might stock novelty trinkets, toys, t-shirts, candy, and gum. However, if you’ll attract more sophisticated travelers, you might sell pricier jewelry with a local slant -- ie, designed with stones or gems found in the region.

You can succeed if you know your market. You must be able to match the inventory with the needs of vacationers and at an affordable price point.

Learn how to start a souvenir shop.

33. SUMMER CAMP

Summer Camp Business

Successful summer camp business owners respond to the needs of their customers and communities by developing curriculum and activities that focus on their specific interests, goals, and objectives. Traditional summer camps offer outdoor activities such as hiking, building campfires, and canoeing. Sleep-away camps offer food and lodging as well as trained supervision during physical and educational activities. Day camps do not include lodging and offer more specialized learning activities such as computer science, performing arts and music. Today, there are summer camp programs available for nearly every imaginable purpose, interest and need.

This business is a good choice for people who love teaching but prefer a beautiful natural setting to a formal classroom. High-energy individuals thrive on the combination of physical and mental activity this type of business provides. Creative people welcome the challenge of providing fun, interesting, and engaging songs, games, and educational activities for campers. Those who enjoy working with and enriching the lives of children and families experience a high level of job satisfaction within this industry.

Learn how to start a summer camp.

34. SURFING SCHOOL

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Running a surf school and teaching surfing classes is a lifestyle with a dedication to the ocean water. It has the requirement to live on the coast of a country. The best places in America are the west coast of California and the islands of Hawaii. You may also find some decent surfing in other parts of the world such as Australia, Costa Rica, Mexico, and even in exotic places like Fiji and the beach areas of Sanya, China. No matter where you decide is best, you need to love the ocean water, work in a nice surfing spot, and want to teach people how to surf.

Surfers are people who enjoy the surfing lifestyle. Every day is a day at the beach when the waves are good. Surfers who want to teach others are even more special because they need to have patience when being an instructor for first-time learners. The best surfers enjoy daily surfing and catching good waves for them is a spiritual experience.

Learn how to start a surfing school.

35. TOUR COMPANY

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Tour guide services are most often offered in cities large, world-famous cities and cities that have rich historical backgrounds. Guests can be taken on a tour by foot or by vehicle, depending upon the distance that will be covered during the tour.

The self-motivator with a thirst for knowledge who enjoys sharing what they’ve learned with others would do best owning a tour guide business.

Learn how to start a tour company.

36. TRAVEL AGENCY

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Most travel agencies earn revenue through commissions. Consumers often choose agencies because they help cut down on time needed to research various locations and book accommodations. A popular trend in the industry is online agencies, which operate mostly or exclusively online.

This business idea is perfect for individuals who are passionate about travel, love learning about and visiting new places, and are very detail-oriented. Travel agency owners have very flexible hours but usually only after they have an established book of clients.

Learn how to start a travel agency.

37. TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS

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A travel photographer uses their camera to provide high-quality images to a variety of clients that may include websites, travel blogs, print magazines, television ads, and framed prints for sale. You will need to travel extensively to a variety of locations to deliver the landscapes, hotel rooms, and recreational shots that your clients are looking for. You'll work hard to develop a variety of clients who work with you to determine where your next shoot should be while your self-promotion and marketing will reach out to new clients.

A successful travel photographer will have extensive knowledge of how to use their camera to get the highest definition images containing dramatic landscapes. They will need to enjoy living on the road, hiking, and exploring distant locales to get the perfect shot. They should be sociable and able to toot their own horn in order to develop new clients and customers.

Learn how to start a travel photography business.

38. WALKING TOUR BUSINESS

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Next on our list of travel business ideas is a walking tour business. Tourists are constantly in search of hidden gems and insider knowledge about their destination, which is what walking tour businesses provide. These travel businesses take tourists on guided explorations of an area, during which time tourists see both famous locations and lesser-known attractions while getting lots of local knowledge.

Most walking tours explore the area through a particular interest, and there are tours for all kinds of interests. For example, in New York City there are walking tour businesses that offer guided explorations of the city’s haunted locations, architecture and street art.

Learn how to start a walking tour business.

39. WATERPARK

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Amusement parks are a popular vacation destination for families all over the world. Few things are more exhilarating than experiencing the rides, laughing and screaming as you make your way to the bottom. Couple that with water, and you have a family-friendly adventure for individuals of all ages.

Entrepreneurs with previous small business ownership or management would be best suited for this business venture. Innovators who enjoy a fast-paced atmosphere and are dedicated to reinvesting a portion of their profits can turn a small waterpark into a million-dollar enterprise in a matter of years.

Learn how to start a waterpark.

40. WINE TOUR BUSINESS

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Wine tours educate people about grapes, fermentation, and flavor profiles. From varietals to harvesting techniques to the best way to taste the wine, tours are meant to be as informative as they are fun. These tours can help people appreciate all that goes into a single sip, and promote local businesses by exposing their product to more people.

This travel business is good for someone who already has a healthy interest in how vineyards work, and who enjoys teaching people in an entertaining way. Ideally, it should be far less about enjoying a good bottle of wine, and far more about being a good (and organized) educator.

Learn how to start a wine tour business.

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