Asian Entrepreneurship in Tourism and Hospitality: Financial Support, Business Sustainability

Asian Entrepreneurship in Tourism and Hospitality: Financial Support, Business Sustainability

Yash Bhushan Prabhugaonkar (James Cook University, Singapore), Dam Xuan Minh (Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Hanoi, Vietnam), K. Thirumaran (James Cook University, Singapore), Karen S. Sim (James Cook University, Singapore), Sapon Pruhtpahon (Independent Researcher, Thailand) and Mohit Raghav (World Lifestyle Pte. Ltd., India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3648-3.ch001


Entrepreneurs in tourism constantly find business a challenge, especially when competing with well-established players in the industry who have huge capital and large market shares. More often than not, these entrepreneurs must constantly innovate and come up with new ideas on travel booking and new ways to enhance travel experiences. Focusing on entrepreneurs in Asia, very few countries proactively fund aspiring entrepreneurs who often struggle like their American counterparts with credit card debts and huge loans. This chapter reviews Asian entrepreneurs in tourism, with a focus on accessibility to state support and funds, identifying research areas for future studies. Using systematic literature review and country-specific profiling of India, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam, the study examines the extent governments support entrepreneurs and the sustainability of their business. This research is intended to trigger insights for both industry practitioners and policymakers and to form an awareness to create a sustainable environment for budding entrepreneurs in tourism.
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Entrepreneurship has influenced the tourism industry with innovation, competitiveness, productivity, wealth generation and job creation (Fyall, Buhalis & Parra, 2009; Stojanović, 2018; Istudor, 2019; Fua et al., 2019). Entrepreneurship in tourism has taken new dimensions since the advent of technology in the last 20 to 30 years. Entrepreneurs in the past focused their energies on the retail front where interested customers approached tour companies to discuss – face-to-face – tour packages and make travel arrangements. With the development of the internet, customers can now make all their travel arrangements independently without much reliance on visiting a retail corner. In these regards, entrepreneurs have found the interstitial space between the physical and virtual worlds an opportunity for business.

The Asian tourism landscape is vastly changing and has resulted in the appearance of many entrepreneurs. Since 2005, more than 700 start-up companies in the travel sector have emerged (Coletta & Kapoor, 2019). The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO, 2018) also sees entrepreneurship and innovation as key practices in the industry. Several different business models have gained popularity in this age of business disruption. Among these, new business models have developed in the areas of online travel and travel reward schemes in hospitality services such as spa or lodges (Devang et al., 2017; Leisure hospitality startup, 2019).

While acknowledging institutional entrepreneurship can often be a major part of the East Asian economies (Ateljevic & Li, 2009; Gillen, 2010), this chapter is very much interested in the individual entrepreneurs and the support they receive from the government and other private venture capitalists. Even though successful entrepreneurs like Bill Gates or Steve Job have changed people’s way of life, history suggests the fact that individual entrepreneurs are the most vulnerable and often face financial issues because of unprecedented events such as in policy changes or disasters, which in most of the cases, could be better managed by governments. Their support levels can vary more or less but contemporary states have started to realize the need to protect and develop their economies by supporting entrepreneurs in key industries.

Through a systematic study of the literature on Asian tourism and entrepreneurship, this chapter aims to provide an insight on scholarships and future research trajectories. A country-profile approach is adopted to understand the degree of government and private support in the tourism sector. The countries profiled are India, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. A rationale for the selection of these countries are provided in the methodology section. Suffice to add here, these countries are selected on the basis of different degrees of government policy depth and financial support given to entrepreneurs in the tourism sector. Finally, a discussion on the value of this study and for practitioners will be a key contribution of this chapter. Non-government organizations like the Enterprise Asia ( strives to create an Asia abound in entrepreneurship as it believes that this is the catalyst towards a sustainable and progressive world. With over 3000 members in the Asia-Pacific region, Enterprise Asia recognizes and encourages budding entrepreneurs in the hospitality and tourism trade with annual recognition awards ceremony and facilitates participation in business through innovation (Enterprise Asia, 2019). Governments too, in much of Asia both in developed and emerging tourism economies, recognize, facilitate, regulate and even incentivise entrepreneurship in the sector (Person & Van Beek, 1998; Truong & Le, 2017; OECD, 2019). We examine the scope of the government’s role in facilitating entrepreneurship in the tourism sector in each of the four countries selected here, and to understand the opportunities and sustainability issues affeccting prospective entrepreneurs.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Micro Enterprise: Small business firm with fewer than 10 employers or not at all other than the owner.

Entrepreneurship Mobility: Entrepreneurs who seek to establish their business activities in a location different from their home city.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs): Businesses with an annual receipt of less than US$100 million or has less than 1000 employees. In some countries and in some sectors the sales turn-over and number of employees may vary.

Institutional Entrepreneurship: Most often refers to government agencies or organisations that engage in creating a business to promote a specific business initiative.

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