Tourism Careers and Employment: Issues and Challenges

Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon

There are two main challenges for the industry in terms of developing careers and employment
opportunities in tourism.
The first is part of an ongoing debate about the relationship between tourism education
and tourism employment. The fact that the number of tourism courses and the number of
tourism graduates searching for jobs in the industry is increasing is without doubt (Airey &
Johnson, 1999; Kusluvan & Kusluvan, 2000; Petrova & Mason, 2004). The oversupply of
tourism graduates is further compounded by the industry, which too often does not rate or
recognise tourism education. Evidence provided by Hjalager and Andersen (2001) and
Ladkin and Riley (1996) indicates that employees with a dedicated vocational tourism
training do not necessarily have more rapid career progression than those with less
relevant qualifications. Furthermore, industry has criticised tourism education for not adequately
preparing people for employment in the industry (Airey, 1998; Petrova & Mason,
2004), and employers are confused about what educational courses are on offer due to the
rapid expansion (Evans, 1993). On a more positive note however, there is evidence that
employers are keen to work with tourism educators in order to improve the situation
(Peacock & Ladkin, 2002). A recent UK government paper on The future of higher
education (Department for Education and Skills, 2003) indicates the wish to build stronger
partnerships between higher education institutions and the Regional Development Agencies
(Tribe, 2003). If tourism education is to provide a valuable starting point for the
development of human capital, then greater dialogue between industry and education would
be useful.
The second challenge for tourism employment is the perception and attractiveness of
jobs in the industry. The positive aspects have been identified by Szivas et al. (2003) as
glamour, the opportunity to travel, meeting people, foreign language use and task variety.
However, Thomas and Townsend (2001) identify that tourism jobs often compare
unfavourably with jobs in other sectors in terms of employment relations, seasonality, and
part time characteristics. Low pay, long hours, low skills, and minimal training can be
added to this list (Szivas et al., 2003). This reliance on untrained labour leads to poor quality
of service, but the benefit for the industry is cheap and plentiful labour supply (Cooper
et al., 1998). One of the consequences of a poor perception of jobs in tourism is the loss
of tourism professionals to other sectors (Hjalager, 2003). The attitudes and motivations
for choosing a career in tourism and the aspirations of those entering the industry is a
research area that has received increasing amounts of attention (Petrova & Mason, 2004;
Hjalager, 2003; Ross, 1997a, b; Airey & Frontistis, 1997), which adds to an understanding
of what drives people to work in the tourism industry.

Add new comment

More information
  • Files must be less than 2 MB.
  • Allowed file types: png gif jpg jpeg.
More information
  • Files must be less than 2 MB.
  • Allowed file types: zip rar.