Why travel and tourism?

If you love travel, then why not make a career of it. People who work in travel and tourism have a passion for travel and a commitment to helping other travellers make the most of their holiday.

What do people in travel and tourism do?

In simple terms, people in the travel and tourism industry transport people to new places, assist with accommodation and help with sightseeing and activities. The jobs include travel agents, wholesalers, tour operators, reservations consultants, hotel staff and a variety of executive positions.

Sometimes it all starts with that first unforgettable trip.

Most people never forget their first trip - it is often a memorable experience that stays with them forever. Sometimes this experience inspires them to make a career in travel and tourism.
I love travelling and toyed with the idea of becoming a flight attendant or travel agent, which was what drew me to the industry initially. But once I began studying tourism my eyes were opened to the wide choice of career options available to me.
Bianca Borrett - Tourism Awards Manager,
SA Tourism Commission

Some of the many and varied tasks that jobs in the travel industry involve.

  • Communication
  • answer phone calls and respond to email enquiries
  • talk with a lot of people
  • translate from one language to another
  • Organisation
  • prepare travel itineraries for clients and groups
  • book accommodation and travel using industry-specific computer programs
  • book airline tickets
  • create and print brochures
  • Interaction
  • offer clients local, interstate and international travel options
  • entertain customers with stories about historical, geographical and cultural interest points
  • lead tour parties
  • travel to a variety of local, national and international destinations
  • Involvement
  • organise whiz-bang tourism awards events
  • recruit and train staff
  • coordinate educational programs

What qualities do you need to succeed?

The most important qualities are communication, teamwork and customer service skills. Whatever the location, position or technical skills, to make it in travel and tourism you need to enjoy challenges and have the ability to work well with people.

It is important to appreciate that people around the world have different ways of doing things. Working in the travel and tourism industry, you will come to learn a lot about people.

To find out what it takes to work in this very people-focused industry, we asked many people in the industry. These are some of the qualities they identified:

Communication is the key

In travel and tourism, you need to communicate with lots of different tourists and not let small hassles get you down. You need to have very good communication skills because you are negotiating travel and accommodation deals with a lot of different hotels and companies. It is important to understand that people from different cultures place different importance on things like punctuality, food preference, tour types and destination.
Stephanie Karst-McGrath - Managing Director, APTC
  • maturity and people skills
  • the ability to think on your feet
  • good selling skills
  • the ability to create a rapport with people of different ages and different cultures
  • a sense of humour
  • an outgoing personality
  • a strong customer service ethic and a desire to help people
  • good computer skills
  • good organisational skills
  • good communication and listening skills
  • confidence
  • leadership
  • an empathic attitude that encourages others to place their trust in you
  • health and fitness
  • a practical nature and commonsense
  • good general knowledge
  • problem-solving skills
  • enjoyment of the outdoors
  • the ability to work in a team
  • a good memory for people's names
  • strong attention to detail, because a little mistake could mean a major disaster.

The list covers many things, including interpersonal skills, personality and outlook on life. These skills and an appreciation for the demands of travelling will help you enjoy a successful and fulfilling travel and tourism career.

Read more about your options of career paths in the travel industry.

Special thanks to Career FAQs for providing some of the content from their careers book, Travel & Tourism.