Business Advice

Starting & Growing Your Own Business

Growing and developing your business

There is a lot to do and think when starting up and growing a hospitality and tourism accommodation business.

Our pages are here to help you maximise your opportunities and develop your business, no matter how big or small.

What do I need to know to be a tourism business?

  • The Business Development Team at VisitBritain provides business support, and Accreditation and Assessment Schemes to assist tourism businesses across England to continually increase the quality of the visitor experience. Their Business Advice hub provides invaluable advice including preparing your business to leave the EU.

How to Start your own tourism business

There are lots of resources and tools available to help you start your own business

  • 10 steps to starting a business - provides a step-by-step guide on how to start a business, taking you through each of the key stages of the start-up process – from evaluating your business idea and choosing a company name through to designing your business cards, developing a website and, finally, getting ready to launch.
  • - offers free advice, tools and resources on starting a new business.

How to run a tourism accommodation business

Want to know how to run your tourism accommodation business – The Pink Book Online covers day-today issues, legislation, marketing and much more

The Pink Book Online by Visit Britain is very informative on the key areas of legislation relating to hospitality businesses such as:

  • Alcohol and entertainment licensing
  • Cancellations and no-shows
  • Fire risk assessment tool
  • Food safety and hygiene
  • TV and copyright licences
  • Unfair trading practices
  • Employee legislations

We advise you visit their page on legislative updates for the hospitality sector from time to time to help you comply with new or revised legislation.

Tourism Planning Guidance

As a tourism and hospitality business, you may need to adapt the use of your property or land to meet the needs of your business.

You will need to ensure you are compliant with planning regulations when you do so. This link to Visit Britain’s site offers general national planning guidance.

Additional useful information on consent and legislation:

Durham Planning Advice

Advice and contact details in Durham.

Star ratings and accreditations

Star ratings and accreditations are a great way to show your commitment to quality and help you meet your customers’ expectations.

This section provides information about the various accreditations available nationally.  Find guidance on the criteria, fees and how to apply.

For Best Bar None, a national scheme to promote responsible drinking.

Advice on food safety including Food Hygiene Rating scheme in Durham.

How to make your Accommodation Accessible

Access For All

Providing access for all is good business and can widen your market to new customers. This section guides you on everything you need to know as an inclusive tourism business.  In general, this covers access statements, legislation and tools to assist you with the following:

  • Customer service and training
  • Information and marketing
  • Physical facilities
  • This infographic is a great tool to help you make your holiday homes accessible to the disabled and older holidaymakers.

Sustainable business

There are many benefits to building a sustainable business.  It is of course good for the environment and you can potentially save costs, but this is also a growing market as consumers are more demanding.

You will find lots of good practical guides, tips and tools to help you with developing and communicating your sustainable offer here.

If you are interested in attaining accreditation for Green Tourism.

  • Visit, register and carry out a self-assessment. This will give you ideas and tips on how to become greener.

Finance & Funding

Managing your finances

Business finance explained including the full range of debt and equity finance options for start-ups and businesses looking to grow. This section includes:

  • Grant funding & Finance in the North East

The North East Growth Hub offers business support and advice for all business types and sizes and provides details of current funding and grant schemes in the region

Information on local funding – loans, equity funds and grants

  • Advice and Support from HMRC

A range of tools and information from the HM Revenue and Customs to help you meet your tax obligations more easily.

  • Securing Funding

Alternative funding sources to banks and building societies

  • Setting your prices

Tips on how to determine how much to set your prices.

  • Card Payments

Advice on how to get started, and on legal and statutory obligations relating to card payments.

  • Statutory obligations on cancellations and no-shows.
  • Gift Aid for Charitable Attractions

Guide on rules for Gift Aid, including how to display your entrance prices.

Handy tips and information on:

  • Costs and profit
  • Controlling your labour including minimum wage information
  • Accounting and record keeping
  • Stock control
  • Funding your growth
  • Managing cash
  • Measure your finance performance

The National Lottery Heritage Fund cover a broad range of projects that connect people and communities to the national, regional and local heritage of the UK. They fund heritage projects which can be anything from the past that you value and want to pass on to future generations.

Projects can include; nature, designed landscapes, landscapes & countryside, oral history, cultural traditions, community archaeology, historic buildings, museums, libraries, commemorations and industrial/ maritime transport. Select to find out more about the Heritage Fund.

Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants believe that great art and culture makes life better. They champion, develop and invest in experiences that enrich peoples lives. They support activities across the arts, museums and libraries.

Employing and training staff

Information including a range of tools and resources on how to hire, manage and train your staff.

The Pink Book Online offers comprehensive advice on employee legislations.

Dealing with floods

Guidance on how to deal with flooding if it happens to your business.

Key advice include:

  • Assessing the situation
  • Working with others
  • Communicating with your customers
  • Cancellations and refunds
  • Addressing the future impact of your business
  • Government support for business
  • Returning to normal


Information and contact details in Durham

Local initiatives and groups

Durham Tourism Management Plan is the blueprint for how businesses, public sector and other groups intend to grow the volume and value of its visitor economy in Durham. Visit County Durham develops this in consultation with the stakeholders in the sector, and it captures the key plans and activities in the county.

There are various local groups that are active in developing the visitor economy. Some groups discuss strategic issues and others are local business network groups.

Who’s who?

The AONB Partnership works with tourism organisations, businesses and communities to promote sustainable tourism. They have a Tourism Working Group that provides advisory support to the AONB Partnership.

Contact: Shane Harris,, 01388 528801

  • Weardale Visitor Network

This group discuss activities, opportunities and issues relating to the local visitor economy.

Contact: Jill Richardson,, 01388 762473

  • Destination Seaham

This group leads on the development of Destination Plan for Seaham. They also discuss activities, opportunities and issues relating to the local visitor economy.

Contact: Paul Fletcher, Seaham Town Council,, 0191 581 8034

A partnership of authorities, agencies and community bodies with an interest in developing the coast in Sunderland, Durham and Hartlepool.

Contact: Niall Benson,, 03000 268 131

AAPs have been set up to give people in County Durham a greater choice and voice in local affairs. The needs of local communities are discussed through AAPs and they help organisations focus their actions and spending on issues important to these local communities.