Working in the Travel and Tourism Industry – What You Need to Know

ICI AUS - Travel and Tourism Industry

The travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest and most progressive. In 2016, its global economic contribution was more than 10 trillion Australian dollars. In Australia alone, tourism contributed $49.7 billion to the GDP (gross domestic product) in 2017, and it employed more than 900,000 people.

This makes it a great industry to join, with international tourist arrivals expected to reach 1.8 billion by 2030. More people are travelling, meaning more jobs for you.

Taking hold of the opportunity

Travel and tourism drives exports, generate prosperity across the world and as mentioned above, creates an array of jobs. One in five of all jobs created across the world in the last decade has been in the travel and tourism sector.

You can find jobs in:

  • Accommodation
  • Transportation
  • Entertainment
  • Attractions
  • Food and beverage services
  • Retail trade
  • Recreational services
  • Cultural services
  • Arts and culture
  • Ecotourism
  • Conferences and conventions
  • Ancillary services
  • Promotion

Jobs are varied, so there are plenty of options to suit your skills, needs and wants. If you love the outdoors, why not explore adventure travel? It involves exploration or travel with a certain degree of risk, requiring you to problem solve, has good people skills, be energetic, organised and brave.

Or maybe you prefer the marketing side of travel? Skilled marketers can thrive in the travel and tourism industry, in charge of company or destination campaigns. You must be confident, creative, a good communicator and possess a diploma in marketing.

Maximising skills and interest

When determining the role you’d like to play in the Travel and Tourism industry, think about the activities you love to do in your own time. Do you enjoy browsing holiday destinations and booking flights and accommodation for you, your friends and your family? If so, then life as a travel agent could keep you happy.

What about work that leaves you exhausted but feeling fulfilled? What about your existing skills? As a minimum, for success in the travel and tourism industry, these should include:


You should be fairly organised, and able to design systems and processes to complete jobs on time. A travel agent cannot be sloppy with timing or details, as clients may miss flights needed for special occasions, or miss out on that good price because you didn’t book in time.


Whether it’s new employment opportunities, clients or better relationships with suppliers and other businesses, having great contacts will not only benefit you but also the people you work with. If you’re a little lost and you don’t have any connections, consider joining an industry group to get connected.


Technology has played a huge role in the growth of the travel and tourism industry, and while you don’t have to be a tech genius, you should be flexible and open to learning new skills and systems that will help you.

Commitment to customer service

Whether you’re a travel agent, a hotel manager or a luggage handler, you need to be customer-oriented. You will be working with plenty of clients who will require your help, so being able to cater to their needs is a must. If you love helping others and have a friendly, enthusiastic and warm personality, this industry is a great choice.

Bonus skills include:

  • Empathy and emotional intelligence
  • Teamwork
  • Stress and time management
  • Problem-solving
  • Strategy and innovation

And what about your ultimate goal? If your goal is to be a full-time jetsetter, think about the entry-level positions that might help you get your foot in the door. If your goal is to one day own your own restaurant, explore ways to gain experience in the kitchen or front of the house. The trick is to keep seeking opportunities that will propel you towards your long-term goal, developing a good work ethic, practicing teamwork, and building on skills as you go.

Boosting your chance of success

Not all jobs in the Travel and Tourism sector require a qualification. You may, however, find that having a qualification will broaden your career prospects. A qualification under your belt shows that you take the industry seriously and that you will do whatever it takes to be a part of it. A qualification shows you are committed and passionate, regardless of your experience.

If you haven’t yet decided where you want to sit within the travel and tourism industry, an ICI Diploma or ICI Advance Diploma in Travel and Tourism is a great place to start your journey. Designed in conjunction with industry representatives, you can learn the skills you need to succeed within the industry quickly and conveniently. Get to know the industry, hone in on a set of skills, and boost your chances of securing a position with organisations such as:

  • Airlines
  • Travel agencies
  • Tourism services
  • Tourism marketing consultancies
  • Inbound tour operators
  • Tourist attractions and theme parks
  • Coach tour companies
  • Cruise lines
  • Conference centres

Other qualifications you might like to consider include: Hospitality Management, Import – Export, Catering & Cooking, and T.E.S.O.L.

Managing risks

As with any industry, there are challenges in the travel and tourism industry that should be examined.

Economic instability

It’s easy to understand why travel and tourism can be particularly affected by economic instability. With economic downturn comes tighter household budgets, tightening of credit conditions and falling asset values. Business expenditure drops, and this is a major component of tourism spending.

Political instability

The world is often unstable, and when political instability hits, people are less likely to spend money on luxury items such as travel. Political instability is a major concern in Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Europe, and North America, and this affects not just a person’s desire to travel, but infrastructure development too.

Low wage and retention

Low wages mean the travel and tourism industry has a high level of job turnover. This makes training difficult, leading to a lack of skilled personnel. On top of this, each time a person leaves, information gets lost. If tourism is to be a sustainable product, the industry needs to turn part-time jobs into careers.

Tourism infrastructure

Around the world, tourism suffers from poor infrastructure. From substandard docks and ports to entry to poor electricity and water supply, lack of infrastructure plays a pivotal role in the growth of the travel and tourism industry.

The good news

The good news is that most governments have all of the above on their radar. In fact, Australia is investing heavily in tourism, releasing funds to support training, development and tourism infrastructure in particular. One goal (part of the national Tourism 2020 strategy) is to double annual overnight visitor expenditure to over $115 billion by 2020. Another is to encourage high-quality tourism experiences, including Indigenous tourism.

The Australian Government is also limiting the tax, red tape and other regulatory burdens the industry has traditionally faced.

The bottom line

The opportunity, flexibility of skills and education opportunities mean that travel and tourism has a very healthy future. The industry offers a plethora of jobs in a lot of different sectors, and there’s plenty of opportunities for advancement as well — unlike some other industries, promotion can happen very quickly in travel and tourism.

Government investment has also opened up a huge amount of entry-level work. If securing a job straight from school or your studies is a goal, the industry can help you meet it. You can even secure an entry-level job and study while you work, with ICI allowing you to study in your own time and from the comfort of your home. Your employer might even support you.

The bottom line? There’s a place for everyone in travel and tourism, and the transforming industry can provide a lasting and rewarding career. Explore what’s on offer, and see how ICI can boost your prospects.

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Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.