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Working In The Tourism Industry

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An overview of the industry

The tourism industry is worth more than £120 billion per year to the UK, so it’s big business. It relies upon a range of skillsets and people to keep it running and maintain high standards so that the UK remains to be a top tourist destination.

It’s an incredibly fast-paced industry and well-suited to those who enjoy customer-facing roles. Tourist experiences need to be special and memorable and you could be a part of making that happen.

The roles within tourism stretch far and wide. Attractions rely on maintenance workers, actors, security and customer services.

There are also opportunities to work abroad with tourism through positions on a cruise ship or a holiday resort.

It was recently revealed that despite the tourism workforce being 70% female, only 6% are board directors. In light on this, the ITT (Institute of Travel and Tourism) has launched the Women 1st initiative, which offers heavily discounted professional development programmes for women to help get them into management positions.

Skills & interests required

The tourism industry will require you to have a passion for travel and culture that you can share with customers and make their experiences special. If you work in a specific venue, you’ll need to be clued up on it in order to help customers! Within an agency you may need to be savvy with popular tourism destinations and be comfortable with doing research to fill in any knowledge gaps!

Those who enjoy working with people will suit the customer-facing roles within the industry as your time will be dedicated to helping people having the best experience possible.

Some tourist companies offer a package experience, which may involve planning and organisation on behalf of the customer.

Some other skills that will benefit you in the tourism industry are:

- Adaptability
- Commercial Awareness
- Creative Writing
- Creativity
- Customer Service
- Information Technology
- Presentation Skills
- Resourceful
- Sales
- Writing

Typical Career Progression Routes for School Leavers

Travel and tourism apprenticeships are available that could allow you to train as a cabin crew member, or a management apprenticeship that will prepare you for working your way up within a tourism company.

Working within a tourism agency you would likely begin as an assistant and with experience would progress to an executive, then a manager. With each step you would have more responsibility and potentially be in charge of a team.

Tips for getting into the field

Tourism is an in-demand industry so being able to prove your interest in it will be highly beneficial. There are a variety of creative ways to do this such as writing a blog, writing critical reviews, making videos or having a relevant Instagram account.

As many tourist attractions are seasonal there are a lot of opportunities for part-time work or volunteering. Research attractions that are local to you and see how you could get involved.

Earning potential

At entry level in a tourism firm you can expect to earn between £15,000-£19,000. As you progress, your salary could progress to in excess of £30,000.

As a professional tour operator you could earn anywhere between £21,000-£32,500.

Other roles that the industry relies on, like actors and service staff, will depend on the venue or attraction.

Qualification requirements & subjects to study

To get into tourism there are usually not any formal requirements, but a Higher National Diploma in travel and tourism may enable you to progress more quickly. It is rare that a place of work will require a specific A-level in tourism to qualify for the job.

The qualification requirements depend on the type of role that you wish to pursue within the industry. If you’d like to work in tourism marketing, for example, you may find that a professional qualification in marketing will help you stand out above other candidates.

You may also be in roles that require you to manage money and budgets, which could need a GCSE in maths.

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Industry bodies

Tourism Management Institute
The Tourism Society
Tourism Alliance
Association of Leading Visitor Attractions
UKInbound