Globalization is not a buzzword solely associated with international business. It has translated into a booming new career possibility: expanded services in the travel and tourism industry. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the industry "already is responsible for more than 10 percent of global employment." Dr. Brian White, director of the WTTC's Human Resources Center in British Columbia, says the field is incredibly diverse and comprised of seven major areas:
– Airlines / transport;
– Conferences and conventions;
– Arts and culture;
– Hotels, food and beverage;
– Outdoor recreation;
– Ancillary services associated with tourism.
With all this opportunity, where should you concentrate your efforts? Focusing on the market's demands may lead to more job openings. On the corporate side, according to a piece on the industry trends online, the travel and tourism industry is "in consolidation mode." This means that smaller companies are merging or being acquired by the big players like American Express, Marriott and Carlson Wagonlit. So it might make sense to begin your career with one of the larger corporations, where you can gain exposure to many facets of the business while having relative job security. An obvious trend is the increase in Internet service. The Web has created new and different career options for those interested in travel careers. Individuals can work for sites like CheapTickets.com, Orbitz and Travelocity.com. Additionally, journalists may see more travel writing opportunities available in the traditional magazines like Conde Nast Traveller and National Geographic Traveller, as well as online publications.
Characteristics for Success
You must have patience, flexibility and excellent interpersonal skills. This is a service industry, first and foremost. Cultural sensitivity and awareness are critical, as tourism professionals deal with different countries and cultures. Senior level executives generally have MBAs and develop skills and competencies that can be transferred across sectors. Mid-level professionals need a mix of practical experience and academic credentials, according to Dr. White, who also teaches in the field. For example, individuals might work full-time in the travel sector while going-part-time for an advanced certificate in travel and tourism.
Pros and Cons
One obvious benefit of working in the travel and tourism industry is the opportunity to actually hop on a plane and see many locales at low prices, or even gratis. Another benefit for many is the fact that it is an international field that changes along with global trends. One of the downsides to the business, especially the hotel and restaurant side, is the long hours. Management must often work evenings and weekends. Individuals are often asked to move to a new location without much notice.
Ethics and Tourism
Dr. White reminds us there is a strong set of ethics required in the field of tourism, noting the industry has profound economic implications for a country's economy and people. It is important for individuals to consider their responsibilities, says Dr. White. Tourism is about more than making a profit; it involves benefiting local communities, creating jobs that provide fair wages and not exploiting the environment.