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Travel and Tourism

The Job Market

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  • Tourism is vital to the UK, with around 30 million overseas visitors a year (the world's 6th most visited destination). Various work areas make up the sector, including the largest employer, hospitality.

  • The passenger transport sector contributes to the success of the tourism industry. Jobs range from the extremely competitive, such as airline pilot, cabin crew and train driver, to parts of the industry which sometimes find it harder to attract and retain staff, such as coach companies

  • Trains are one of the biggest employers - the main occupations are engineers and drivers. Job opportunities for train crew are mainly concentrated on long-distance routes. Women make up a small percentage of those employed on the railways (in 2010, just one in seven of Network Rail's employees was female, and only 2% of its apprenticeship applications came from females),  

  • There are only a few very large employers in passenger transport but they employ much of the workforce. British Airways, for instance, has over 35,000 staff.

  • In bus transport, the five main bus operators (Arriva, FirstGroup, Go-Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach) account for nearly three-quarters of the industry's £4 billion turnover.

  • Huge companies are also an important part of the travel and tourism services sector and mergers and takeovers are increasingly common. One of the biggest groups is TUI, which owns more than 200 travel industry brands including Thomson and LateRooms.com.  In total, TUI employs around 49,000 people.

  • Small employers in the passenger transport and tourism services industries range from coach companies with just one coach, to independent 'one-off' travel agencies operating in the high street or from a home base.

  • Travel bookings made on the Internet have contributed to the falling numbers of high street travel agents. However, the 2011 Association of British Travel Agents Consumer Trends Survey showed that over half the people who took a recent foreign holiday still booked it through a travel agent/tour operator.

  • In many tourism-related jobs, seasonal work is common. For instance, most holiday representatives work on a seasonal contract, and representatives must be prepared to go where the jobs are as there is strong competition for vacancies.

  • Theme parks, historic properties and other tourist attractions might only be open for a limited period and just a few of the posts will be full time throughout the year. Volunteering is also common in some areas e.g. at National Trust properties