Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Yaneek Page | Starting a tour company

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2021 | 12:19 AM

QUESTION: I am in need of your help in starting a business for myself, which includes working from home. I am interested in doing local tours here in Jamaica, where the tourists that come here will always want to come back. I am HEART Trust- certified as a tour guide and have a wide knowledge of tour operations for over the past five years. Please assist me with any information to help me on the journey to success, not just for me but my four beautiful kids foremost.

BUSINESSWISE: I’m heartened by your passion for the tour business and creating a customer service experience that, as you put it, will make tourists always want to come back. In business language, we refer to that as customer satisfaction that may result in high customer lifetime value from repeat business.

The good news is that you are already trained as a tour guide so you would likely be equipped with the knowledge skills and competencies to deliver on that.

The first step in your journey is to create a list of the statutory or regulatory requirements for being a tour operator in Jamaica, and then compile the associated costs and resources each may require.

The Tourist Board Act gives the Tourist Board the authority to license all tourism enterprises operating in Jamaica, as well as to refuse, revoke or refuse to renew such licences.

The Tourism Product Development Company, TPDCo, is the entity that currently receives and processes applications for the operations of a tour company. To obtain a licence you will need to complete an application form titled ‘Application for Domestic Tour Company Licence – New 2019’, which can be found online on the website of the TPDCo.

Along with your completed application form, you are also required to submit various documents: certificate of incorporation; registration of business name, where applicable, that is, if the business name is different from the name of the company; letter of ‘good standing’; Tax Registration Number; list of directors, where applicable; public liability insurance; proof ownership, for example, a land title or certified rental agreement; approval from local planning authority – a requirement for both home-based and commercial operations; brochure showing visitor services offered; public health food establishment certificate, where applicable; valid food handlers permits, where applicable.

The applicant must also submit a fleet list, including year, type, model and licence numbers; name of carriers of Jamaica Tourist Board licensed contract carriage operators as well as other approved carriers; list of tour guides; TPDCo tour guides certification for each tour guide; work permits, where applicable; copy of security contract, where applicable; security approval from the Resort Areas Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, where applicable; and approval from National Environment & Planning Agency, where applicable.

Additionally, TPDCo requires strict adherence to its anti-harassment guidelines, which requires that tour guides not stress, pester or cause visitors, tourists or guests to feel undue pressure to learn about or take your tour. This may require additional training from the institution or its affiliates.

Before you set off on completing further training and gathering the documents previously mentioned, I strongly urge you to complete two actions prior.

First, tabulate the total cost of the registration and the annual operating costs related to your prospective tour company; and second, evaluate the feasibility of pursuing this business at this time. Tabulating the operational costs will be helpful in your financial projections and market feasibility.

I’ve written several articles on how to validate your business idea, test your business model, and create a strategic plan for growth, which I urge you to search for online and review as they may all be very useful step-by-step guides in not simply bringing your passion to market, but more important, ensuring that the market will value and demand your passion.

One love and good luck!

Yaneek Page is the programme lead for Market Entry USA, a certified trainer in entrepreneurship, and creator and executive producer of The Innovators and Let’s Make Peace TV series.