5 creative tourism business ideas for a world weary of home

7 min read
Ashliegh Gehl

If you’ve spent some time travelling across Canada, you know both landscape and culture change from coast to coast. Canadians and international guests alike want to experience it all, both the hidden gems and the national landmarks. That’s partly why the tourism business is one of Canada’s largest sectors.

In 2019, Canada generated $105 billion in revenue and was the number one service export with 3% of total exports. It also directly and indirectly accounted for 1.8 million jobs.

When the global pandemic emerged in 2020, tourism became one of the hardest hit industries due to enforced lockdowns. Entrepreneurs with exceptional vision and problem-solving skills looked toward the future to fill in industry gaps. Many of these entrepreneurs are setting their sights on starting a tourism business.

Below, we’ll discuss five trends worth looking into if you’re ready to start your own tourism business. Each one has the potential to boom once lockdowns are lifted.

1. Get your glamp on

Glamorous camping, better known as glamping, meets the needs of those looking to merge rest and relaxation with the great outdoors.

One of the benefits of Canada's biodiverse landscape is that you don’t have to travel too far to escape the city. It’s easy to find a slice of peace and quiet within local destinations like:

  • Mountains
  • Caves
  • Sandy beaches
  • Boardwalks through marshlands
  • Gently trodden footpaths

Natural beauty is everywhere, and being outdoors is good for our health.

In some provinces, such as Ontario, doctors can actually provide prescriptions for nature.

If you tether glamping to health and wellness tourism, you might find that this pairing fills a tourism business gap!

Traditional camping is delightful, but it’s not for everyone. Sleeping in a tent or on the forest floor can be uncomfortable for some (let’s face it – many Canadians have been there).

Glamping tent with beds, table lamps and potted plants

What’s awesome about glamping is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach. Get creative with your architecture and amenities. Some of the various glamping accommodations entrepreneurs have embraced include:

  • Treehouses
  • Yurts
  • Caves
  • Pods
  • Domes
  • Safari huts

You could also glamp it up on the road by launching a fleet of unique glampervans (a.k.a. camper vans). It’s like a tiny house on wheels and a move people have made, both for long-term and short-term living.

2. Travel bubbles and human-oriented tourism

Canada is a vast country! Due to its size, every province and territory has experienced the pandemic differently.  Some have come up with their own solutions to easing travel restrictions.

Take the Atlantic travel bubble, for example. It increased mobility among residents living on the east coast.

Someone living in Nova Scotia could vacation in New Brunswick, and vice-versa. In turn, the bubble opened up human-oriented tourism where families travelled to see other family members or close friends. They left their homes not for the destination, but for social engagements with loved ones.

As the world starts to open up, there lies a greater opportunity for additional travel bubbles with other countries, like the bubble New Zealand and Australia once shared.

Thinking of travel in terms of bubbles and human-oriented tourism is relatively new, and there’s an opportunity here to assist those travellers through a Tourism 4.0 framework.

By bridging tourism business and tech, travellers can stay up-to-date through apps and ping notifications. Tech can help them find the most cost-effective travel option that doesn’t compromise their health and well-being. Your Tourism 4.0 solution could be exactly what these travellers need.

3. Solo travel 

Given where we’ve all been over the last 18 months, large group travel may be a thing of the past. As Canadians come out of lockdown, they are seeking new experiences and looking for exciting adventures.

New tourism businesses focused on solo travel may be more desirable.

Much like glamping, solo travel gives adventurers time to focus on themselves. It also provides a comfortable connection to the outdoors.

Solo travellers seek experiences that will enrich their lives and bask in all of the random happenstances that pop up along the way. Planning is also unrestricted, giving the traveller the freedom to choose their own adventure.

Man standing near an entryway with a bike

However, in a post-pandemic world the solo traveller may be looking for safety, security and reassurance during their trip. If they run into a travel bubble or an unexpected situation, they want to feel supported by a company that can get them home safely.

A few services you could provide include:

  • Real-time updates about COVID-19 cases in the region and the rate of transmission through an app that also provides mental health support.
  • 24/7 customer service so you can provide secondary options if a chosen excursion goes awry.
  • Same-day delivery of personal protection equipment should luggage be misplaced.

Services that cater to the solo traveller are abundant. With a bit of research, you can learn about their concerns and find solutions to help them navigate post-pandemic travel.

4. Workcations and business tourism

For many Canadians, working remotely has become the new norm. It has empowered some to become digital nomads and encouraged a bit of wanderlust. Employees felt more freedom to explore new locations to work from, instead of clocking in and out at the office.

A tourism business geared toward workcationers might appeal to companies looking to support their fleet of digital nomads. In turn, cities like Saint John are wanting to attract digital nomads to boost regional revenue.

Offering tailored business tourism packages may be an appealing idea for workers seeking locations with versatile amenities.

Additionally, employees who work in the office and work from home have greater flexibility. This makes room for extended holidays, as there’s no longer an urgency to return to the office. It would allow guests to seamlessly transition from holiday to workcation.

5. Dateless departures, contactless technologies and safer travel

There’s a lot of opportunity for technology to positively disrupt the tourism sector. From dateless departures to touchless travel, advancements in this space reduce unnecessary stressors.

Travellers that are wary of high-touch and densely populated environments could benefit the most from these accommodations.

Expectations for health and safety procedures will be on the rise as travellers become more digital savvy. They’ll quickly share the best and worst parts of their travel experiences with other online communities.

A few ways you can start a new venture here is by:

  • Creating a new app: This could include apps that inform travellers of local safety measures. As restrictions differ from country to country, travellers may be seeking a one-stop resource that provides regional expectations.
  • Developing AI-driven software: Think of software solutions that can assist airlines and hotels with identifying consumer behaviour, so they can create sustainable business processes to mitigate risk.
  • Manufacturing innovative products: You could try your hand at developing products that incorporate sanitation, like any of these travel essentials mentioned by Business Insider.

There’s lots of ideas to explore in this area, so get creative and keep your audience in mind when coming up with solutions to common travel concerns.

Creative tourism business recap

Trends in the tourism industry constantly change. Some travellers want to opt for nostalgia and visit locations that have a deeper personal meaning. Others may want to forge ahead with an insatiable ‘you only live once’ attitude.

The pandemic has changed the way we work, live, and think about our overall health and wellness. It will continue to shape the way in which people travel in the future.

If you’re looking to start a new tourism business and want to help revive the industry, now’s the time to do it. Dive into market research and start understanding the perspectives on travel of those in your region. Once you have your preliminary data, apply it to any of the trends discussed above.

Remember, this is the time to create a new business that could possibly enhance the quality of life for Canadians. It’s also a way to significantly contribute to one of the country’s strongest sectors.