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Starting or running a tourism business

Useful information on some of our most Frequently Asked Questions

In this section: 

Getting Approved / Star Graded with Visit Wales

Visit Wales is the tourism arm of Welsh Government and run the official grading schemes for tourism businesses in Wales.

It is free for visitor accommodation operators to become 'Approved' or 'Star Graded' with Visit Wales - and it is a core requirement of promoting your accommodation business on our website Contact us at for more information. 

Attractions can sign up to Visit Wales' Visitor Attraction Quality Scheme (VAQAS) whereas activity operators will need to self-certify their accreditation details with a recognised national accreditation scheme.

Starting a new business

Business Wales delivers a range of free and subsidised services on behalf of the Welsh Government, to get your start-up idea off to a flying start or to help with business plans and funding opportunities for your project.

Visit for more information or contact 

Swansea Council's Economic Development section offers a range of business grants, including Pre-Start and Growth Grants, find out more at

Planning Approval and TNDIA (specific to tourism developments)

Before you start any work, contact our planning department for advice on planning permission and a pre-application visit. 

This is particularly important if you are considering starting a new business, converting or extending your premises. Even if you only wish to start offering simple B&B in your home, or to equip an existing building as a holiday cottage where no structural alterations to the property are necessary, you may still need 'change of use' planning permission to do so.

Tourism-related projects are often requested to submit at Tourism Needs and Development Impact Assessment (TNDIA) alongside their planning application, providing information in support of the proposal.

The basic purpose of the TNDIA is to demonstrate that all relevant issues have been considered and addressed by the applicant in order to demonstrate the long term sustainability and economic viability of the proposal. 

This is set out in the Tourism policies of the Local Development Plan (LDP) 2020-2025. The LDP is available to view on the Strategic Planning page at:  

Paragraph 2.11.6  from the Tourism and Recreation section (page 210) states that  the information required within a TNDIA will be proportionate to the nature of the proposal, its scale and location.

As a general overview the types of information required as part of a TNDIA would be:

  • Evidence to support why a development of this type is needed, for example, no such facilities or sites exist within the Locality, or there is a waiting list of people wanting to use existing visitor accommodation sites in the vicinity
  • Evidence to show that the proposal is viable and sustainable as a tourism business
  • Impact on the local community, for example, how the development will support the economy, number of jobs created, increased revenue / visitor spend in local economy
  • If appropriate, how the impact on agricultural business will be mitigated, for example, loss of grazing
  • Evidence of vacancy rates within a reasonable geographical area, as agreed with the Council, in order to demonstrate any significant unmet need
  • Demand
  • Assessment of the anticipated levels of vehicular traffic, parking space demand and highway safety impact
  • Demonstration that the development is of high quality, sustainable buildings which extend the existing tourism offer
  • A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment, including details of appropriate mitigation

You can contact the planning department for further advice on 01792 635701 or email

Brown signs for tourism businesses

Swansea Council has adopted a formal policy for businesses to follow if they wish to apply for brown and white tourism signage. 

Firstly, applications are assessed against basic tourism criteria to establish whether the applicant is eligible, for example is it graded, do they attract a minimum number of visitors per year, do they have adequate facilities to accommodate large numbers, etc. All tourism businesses need to demonstrate that signage will be used to help direct people to the location rather than to promote their business.

If the business fulfils the criteria from a tourism perspective, it is then passed on to the highways team for assessment. They will look at different elements that may affect whether the business is eligible for signage, for example if the highway can accommodate signage, how many signs may be required, etc. If a business is successful at both stages, they will receive a formal quote for the signs. Applicants are required to cover all costs involved with acquiring the signs. 

For further information or to request an application form, email 

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Last modified on 11 October 2023