People, Travel

Small Startup Fills Gap in the Market

Small Startup Fills Gap in the MarketSmall Startup Fills Gap in the Market

Tick-the-box tourism landmarks are deserving of their popular status, but swarming crowds and high prices can be enough to dampen even the most eager visitor’s spirits.

British entrepreneur Paul Jackson spotted a gap in the market while volunteering as a London ambassador during the 2012 London Olympics - when he met tourists looking for something off the beaten track.

He enjoyed working with visitors so much that he was inspired to set up his own walking, cycling and boating tour business to showcase the beauty and history of lesser-known tourist hotspots in outer London, according to ‘This is Money’ website.

Although it is still early days, his startup, Discovery Richmond, is now one of the top-rated activities in the south London suburb by Trip Advisor. While Visit London advises that Paul’s Richmond tour is among the best in the capital.

It is also popular with locals wanting to find out more about the happenings on their doorstep.

Paul, who balances his new business with a full-time job as a marketing consultant, said: ‘I have always enjoyed showing visitors around and have developed local tour itineraries, tested out on friends and business colleagues.

‘I also enjoyed working with tourists during the 2012 Olympics as a London Ambassador, so much so that I decided to set up Discovery Richmond, with the aim of helping visitors uncover the charms of the wider Richmond area.’

Visitors, who come from as far afield as New Zealand and Japan, but are just as likely to be from Europe or live around the corner, pay from £10 for two-hour guided tours on foot, by bike and riverboat. They run from April to October, although private trips are available year-round.

While touring start-ups face huge competition to become successful, Paul, and other small businesses like his, should not be underestimated - they are leading the way when it comes to boosting the economy as the UK emerges from the recession.

Tourism is a top job creator – a third of all new roles created between 2010 and 2012 were in tourism, according to a VisitBritain, and the industry as a whole accounts for 9 per cent of all jobs in the UK.

It is expected to continue to be the fastest growing area of the tourism industry, particularly since successfully attracting international visitors to the UK has a direct impact on employment.

According to the study, just 22 additional Chinese visitors to the UK would spend enough money to generate the £54,000 marginal cost of one new job in tourism.

A third of all new roles created between 2010 and 2012 in UK were in tourism, according to a VisitBritain.