10 Great Places to Start a Tourism Business Overseas

A dive shop in Caribbean Mexico? A jazz bar in Panama City? If you've got a good idea and an entrepreneurial streak, the opportunities are unlimited.

International Living
start a business abroad, work overseas
Panama is a great place to start a tourism business
Photograph: International Living

Surrounded by wild tropical rivers and the shimmering-turquoise South Atlantic, the island of Itamaracá is a sunny and warm boater’s paradise. English-speaking tourists are coming in greater and greater numbers, but nobody is catering to them.

The eastern shore of the island boasts miles of sandy beaches, while the western shore is thick with mangroves and tropical wildlife. On the south, you’ll find the historic Fort Orange and the white sand beaches of a small, “boat-access” neighboring island. The wide, dazzling beaches of the north shore are sometimes impossible to reach by car…but are a beautiful and pleasant ride by boat.

So it seems natural that a boat-tour business would do well here…and in fact there are a number of boats in the business already. But what you won’t find is a boat captain or tour operator who speaks English.

Now, with more than 60 English-speaking homeowners on the island—and lots of traffic from the U.K., Europe, and North America—there will be an ever-increasing demand for a sunny day on the water. And with picnics to neighboring islands, mangrove tours, diving on the nearby reefs, and river excursions—just to name a few ideas—there’s plenty of opportunity for a boating entrepreneur.

—Lee Harrison

This article first appeared in International Living.

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First Published October 3, 2011

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