5 Things you didn't know about the tourism industry

The tourism industry is one of South Africa’s largest, contributing R402 billion to the country’s GDP in 2016 – 9.3% of total GDP. There are currently around 1.5 million people employed in jobs related to the industry (accounting for nearly 10% of all jobs in South Africa), and these numbers are expected to grow substantially in the years to come. Considering that tourism is also a global mega-industry, tourism jobs offer huge potential for a fruitful and exciting career path.

Here are a few things you may not know about working in this dynamic sector:

1 - Job prospects are endless
After completing your tourism studies, you won’t be restricted to one specific niche when looking for a job. The choices in the industry are endless, ranging from travel services to restaurants, catering, hotels, tour operators, cruise ships, airlines, events, and tourism boards. A national qualification will provide an entry point into any one of these fields, although you can also specialise in one specific discipline through focused short learning programmes. With tourism predicted to grow, the number of job opportunities will only increase going forward.

2 - Salaries aren’t as bad as you think
If you have a relevant qualification, you can secure a starting salary of around R10 000* a month in the tourism industry, depending on the line of work you go into. Unlike in most other jobs, many employers also allow clients and guests to tip you, which can boost your salary significantly. Compared to other industries, the tourism industry has a high employee turnover rate, so workers who stay committed to their jobs have a good chance of being promoted. Once you’ve climbed the ladder up to a senior management position, you could be earning up to R40 000* per month.

3 - Working hours are better than in the past
Working hours in the tourism industry are renowned for being irregular, stressful, and lengthy. Fortunately, South Africa’s labour laws provide a level of protection for employees, with compensation being required for overtime work in many instances. When choosing a career in the tourism industry, you should nevertheless be prepared to work over weekends or holidays, often in shifts that run during the night. In general, working conditions are good, with many establishments offering free accommodation and meals for live-in employees.

4 - A tourism job teaches you transferable skills
Working in the tourism industry will help you develop skills that you can carry over into other sectors, either within the industry or in other professions (should you one day want to change your career path). You’ll learn skills such as flexibility, determination, communication, customer service, teamwork, time management and patience, all of which prepare you for the requirements of most other jobs.

5 - You can create lifelong relationships
Tourism jobs will expose you to people and cultures from around the world. Many hotel employees and travel agents develop long-lasting relationships with clients. From these relationships, offers to be hosted overseas are a real possibility, giving you the opportunity to visit places you’ve only dreamed of. You’ll often be interacting with influential people, too, and they may be willing to assist you with your career goals once you’ve given them the tourism experience of a lifetime.

Jobs in the tourism industry are plentiful. Once you’ve understood the job requirements, there is unrivalled scope for personal and career growth, adventure, and fantastic experiences.

Ready to start your career in the tourism industry?
Click here to find out how you can earn your tourism qualification on a full-time or part-time basis from home.

*Based on research of various vacancies currently being advertised in the tourism industry.