Starting your business: Accommodation and food services fact sheet

This fact sheet provides an overview of the legal, operational and business issues relevant to the accommodation and food services industry, which includes:

  • hotels, motels, serviced apartments, and other short-term accommodation for visitors
  • cafes, restaurants, takeaways, pubs, bars and other businesses that sell meals, snacks and beverages.

As well as the information in this factsheet, you should check our general business information for additional regulations and obligations relevant to your business. For further advice and assistance, contact your accountant, solicitor or business advisor.


Industry research is an important part of planning for your business. It may uncover economic and industry trends, establish or improve your business and help you keep pace with your industry.

Key government sources for industry specific statistics on the accommodation and food services industry include:

  • Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
    The hospitality industries section of the ABS website provides statistics on the accommodation sector, the cafes and restaurants sector, and the clubs, pubs, taverns and bars sector.

Key legislation & initiatives

Legislation often plays a large part in how you run your business, so it’s important to be aware of the laws that apply to your industry. Key legislation that may affect businesses in the accommodation and food services industry includes:

See also Australian Competition & Consumer Commission's (ACCC's) publication Travel & accommodation - an industry guide to the Australian Consumer Law.

Mandatory industry codes & standards

See Fair trading for more information on legislation specific to your industry as well as details about product safety, labelling, warranty and refund regulations. 

You can have your say on government policy and regulation affecting the future of your industry by registering on the Business consultation website.

​Licences & permits

Licences and permits specific to the accommodation and food services industry are often managed by state or territory governments and mainly relate to:

  • preparing and/or selling food
  • selling and/or consumption of alcohol
  • erecting/displaying signage
  • restricted trading days
  • outdoor dining
  • playing video/sound recordings
  • disposal of waste.

Search the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website to find out what licences and permits you need for your industry.


If you employ staff, you need to comply with Australia’s national workplace laws and the specific requirements in your industry:

Apprentices and trainees

With flexible hours and on the job training, the accommodation and food services  industry lends itself easily to taking on apprentices and trainees. If you take on an apprentice or trainee, you can access a range of government support and financial help. See the Australian Apprenticeships Centre website to find out more.

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Finance & tax

There are a number of finance and tax measures specific to accommodation and food services businesses, including:

  • Goods and Services Tax (GST)
    It’s important to know your GST obligations to ensure you are selling your services at the correct price and that you’re registered with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to ensure you can claim your GST credits. Visit the ATO GST Food page and download the GST Food Guide for details specific to your industry.
  • Tax concessions
    Smaller businesses may also be eligible for a number of tax concessions. See the Small business entity concessions page on the ATO website for further details.

To find more finance and tax guidance, take a look at:

Levies & charges

Levies and charges are generally used to fund activities that benefit the industry or region as a whole. Levies that apply to the accommodation and food services industry are usually applied at the local level in your rates payment. Levies differ from state to state but can include a tourism levy, fire levy, heritage levy or environment levy. 

Visit your local council or state government agency for details on any levies or charges applicable in your area.


There are very few grants available for the accommodation and food services industry, unless you are starting a business in a specific regional area or operating a tourism business. Search our Grant & Assistance to find specific grants that may be applicable to your business.

Workplace Health & Safety (WHS)

As well as the general occupational health and safety regulations, there are also some state-specific WHS requirements relevant to the accommodation and food services industry including:

  • occupational noise management
  • standards for protective clothing and equipment
  • standards for occupational safety signage
  • national standard for manual handling
  • prevention of burns from hot liquids, surfaces or steam
  • prevention and response to workplace bullying
  • prevention of workplace violence (e.g. robbery)
  • electrical safety.

Need help understanding your WHS obligations? Try these government resources:


As well as compulsory insurance such as workers compensation, there are also a number of specific insurance options available for businesses in the accommodation and food services industry.

Insurance options vary depending on your business type but can include insurance for public liability insurance, equipment & machinery, property & buildings, vehicles and business interruption.

Read Insurance & workers compensation to find out more about general insurance options for business.

Intellectual Property (IP)

There are a number of IP rights that may be relevant to businesses in the accommodation and food services industry such as:

IP Australia is the federal government agency responsible for granting rights in patents, trade marks and designs. Visit the IP Australia website to find out more about your IP options.

Industry training

Industry training can be an important part of your business survival. New food standards or marketing strategies can often help improve your competitiveness and grow your business. Need some help getting started?

  • See Training for tips on training yourself and your staff.
  • Search Events to find government events, seminars, training courses and workshops.


While accommodation and food industry businesses do not generally rely heavily on the environment, they can still have a significant impact. The main environmental concerns that businesses in this industry should be aware of include:

  • paying attention to your food supply chain
  • sustainability
  • waste management and reduction.

Read about Environmental management and how you can manage your impact on the environment.

© Commonwealth of Australia 2016. 

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