Travel & Tourism creates livelihoods and opportunities for everyone in society

The men couldn’t believe what they saw! “This is not a lady’s work,” they said.

Female tour guides are a pretty rare species in Kenya’s Masai Mara game reserve. But Evalyn would not take ‘no’ for an answer.

Tourism is one of the world’s biggest employers. Nearly 300 million people earn a living from the sector either directly or indirectly. That’s 1 in 10 of all jobs on the planet

In fact, no other sector offers employment to so broad a section of society. What’s particularly interesting is the types of people working in these jobs.

Travel and tourism typically employs higher proportions of women. Evalyn’s story is one of many. For example women work in 65% of the travel and tourism jobs in Australia and Germany compared with 45% for other sectors in these countries. The pay gap between men and women still exists, but it’s typically far smaller too.²

Travel and tourism tends to employ young people. Around half of all employees in the hotel, catering and hospitality sector are under 25 years old. This is particularly important for economies in the less developed world where the proportion of young people is far higher.²

Travel and tourism provides jobs for people with little formal training. By its very nature, the tourism industry is often labour intensive, needing large numbers of people to service rooms, prepare food and maintain hotel infrastructure. These are jobs that should be relatively safe from the advance of technology and artificial intelligence.

Travel and tourism offers employment in far-flung places. As the growing tourism trends for discovering unexplored destinations and having meaningful experiences continue, the impact of tourist spend spreads to more far-flung parts of the planet. Take tiny landlocked Bhutan which is following a careful sustainable tourism development plan. Tourism arrivals have risen from just over 20,000 a year to nearly 160,000 in the last seven years³, bringing over 30,000 new jobs along the way.⁴

Travel and tourism replaces illegal jobs with legitimate sources of income. It’s not just about offering opportunities to people who might otherwise struggle to find work. Travel and tourism can also provide alternative income to people who previously relied on illegal or dangerous work for their livelihoods.

In Puerto San Carlos, Mexico, many local fishermen used to hunt turtles for a living. Huber was one of them. Now he works for an eco-tourism project in the same bay, helping protect the turtles he once hunted. These jobs are sustainable. Huber’s son works for the project too, learning new skills from his father.

“When I was a fisherman my life was hard and a constant battle, now I am so much happier,” he says.

From lifeguards on the beach in Greece, to deaf artisans in India and tour guides in Brazilian slums to sous chefs in Sri Lankan beach resorts, the job opportunities that the travel and tourism sector offers are myriad, offering opportunity for all.

¹ Source: WTTC Global Economic Impact survey 2017
² Source:
WTTC Gender Equality and Youth Employment Survey
³ Source:
Bhutan Tourism Monitor Annual Report 2015
⁴ Source:
The Economist Intelligence Unit (2013)

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