Job Hunting as a Tourism Graduate by wangnianwu


(Frequently Asked Questions)

Job Hunting as a
Tourism Graduate

1. Who employs graduates in tourism?                 industry is worth just over £110 billion and
Graduates are employed throughout the tourism        employs more than 1.3 million people. Many
industry, which is very fragmented. Tourist          organisations have graduate training schemes,
boards and strategic authorities provide an          which can be competitive and so it is an area
important focal point for marketing the thousands    where having experience can be very beneficial.
of small enterprises offering travel services to     With the London Olympics in 2012, there is
tourists. Large commercial companies such            expected to be an increase in the number of
as Thomson and Thomas Cook continue to               tourism-related jobs available.
dominate the outbound travel market, although
small specialist operators may also flourish,         The majority of roles within the tourism sector
especially with the current demand for bespoke       are non-graduate. Graduate schemes are not
travel options.                                      common, though some do exist within the larger,
                                                     multinational companies. For example, most of
VisitBritain is the           the major hotel groups offer graduate schemes.
national tourism agency, with links to tourist       Thomas Cook offers a graduate training scheme
agencies and attractions throughout the UK.          and TUI will re-launch its scheme in 2011.
The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA)      These schemes are open to all graduates and provides details of local               competition is very strong. AA Appointments
accredited travel companies.                         operate a graduate recruitment scheme in
                                                     conjunction with The Institute of Travel and
Tourism is a fast-growing industry, but with the     Tourism. Further details can be found on their
credit crunch in 2008, figures have dropped           respective websites.
as people have less money to spend and
companies are unable to expand as rapidly.           2. What are employers looking for?
There are a number of issues that tourism            Application forms, CVs and covering letters
businesses need to overcome such as                  need to reflect the mix of subject specific and
increased air ticket prices due to fluctuating        technical skills that you have developed during
oil prices and people reducing their travel by       your degree. They should demonstrate an
air due to concerns over their carbon footprint      understanding of products within the tourism
and terrorism.                                       industry and its structure the role of tourism in
                                                     the communities and environments it affects
Despite this, the industry is still producing good   and the nature and characteristics of tourists.
figures. A report commissioned by VisitBritain
and Tourism Alliance, states that the UK tourism

                                                                                 Employability & Careers
                                                                        Department of Student Services

Other skills and aptitudes                        Just under 30% had taken clerical or secretarial
In addition, employers look for evidence of IT,   jobs or were working in retail, catering, waiting
analytical and problem solving skills, as well    and bar work, showing a continuing trend
as team work and leadership skills, perhaps       for graduates needing to gain experience to
developed through group work on your course.      combine with their qualifications.
You will also need to give evidence of your
communication skills, demonstrated through        Tourism often provides opportunities to travel
report writing and presentations, or customer     and it is possible to have an international career
service roles.                                    with major leisure travel groups. Some offer
                                                  training on the job and most expect you to start
However, you need to be aware that in today's     at the bottom and work your way up.
competitive world you need much more than
just qualifications. Employers are increasingly    Travel Agency Manager – usually works from
asking for graduates who have relevant work       a retail outlet offering travel products and may
experience. It will help to have experience of    be involved in sales development and
other countries and time spent travelling can     operational management. For more detailed
be an investment. Language skills can also        information read the occupational profile at
increase your employment opportunities in
the tourism industry.
                                                  Tour Manager/Holiday Representative –
3. What kind of work can I do?                    organises and accompanies groups of holiday
You can choose between a wide variety of jobs     makers on package tours in the UK and abroad.
that are degree-related or those that appeal      Resort representatives often spend the summer
because they use other interests or elements      season in one country and winter in another.
of your degree. Large tour operators employ       For more detailed information read the
graduates in a range of functions, including      occupational profile at
marketing, operations, sales, administration,
IT, contracts, and product development.
                                                  Tourist Information Centre Manager –
In 2008, six months after graduation, 66% of      manages all aspects of the tourist information
graduates with travel and tourism degrees         centre, or visitor centre, providing information
had entered full-time paid work, with a further   to the public about local attractions, events,
8% working part time and an additional 4%         and facilities in the region. For more detailed
combining work and study. Of those who had        information read the occupational profile at
found employment, 19% were in commercial,
industrial and public sector management, which
includes careers in hotel, travel and tourism     Tourism Officer – develops and promotes
management, 14% had started as business           tourism in order to attract visitors and produce
and finance professionals, and almost 9% had       economic benefits for a site or region. For more
entered marketing, sales and advertising, which   detailed information read the occupational profile
possibly includes significant numbers working      at
with travel agencies.

Other options – jobs where your degree would        to research the organisation carefully in advance
be useful include hotel manager, customer           and to send your letter to a named person. For
services manager, outdoor pursuits manager,         more tips refer to the CV and Covering Letter
and event organiser. It is also worth noting that   guide which you can view at
many graduate vacancies do not specify    
a particular degree, so do not restrict your
thinking to jobs listed here.                       The “Creative job hunting and networking in a
                                                    changing market” guide will help you to make
4. Where can I find information about                speculative applications. You can view a copy at
    employers to approach?                
Most of the information about employers is found
online. Jobs are advertised on company or           5. What help can I get from
specialist websites.                                   Employability & Careers?
• TARGETjobs                                        • Information regarding careers,                   employers, part-time and full-time
    hospitality-leisure-and-tourism                    vacancies, postgraduate study, etc.
• Institute of Travel and Tourism,
    (AA Appointments)                 •   Advice and assistance with CV and covering
• Links to Tourist Boards and Tourist                   letter preparation, application forms,
    Information Centres (most recruit locally)          psychometric tests, interview techniques and                                assessment centres.
• Local authority (Tourism Officers)                            •   Careers guidance.
• My Travel (part of Thomas Cook)                       15 minute quick query sessions are                           available on a first come first served basis for
• Travel Weekly                                         CV checking or careers queries. For times                         see:
• Thomas Cook                      Longer pre-booked careers interviews are
• Thomson (part of the TUI group)                       also available on request.
• Travel Trades Gazette                             Alternative formats of this leaflet are                                 available. Any special requirements should
• TUI                                               be requested in advance.
• Visit London

As well as responding to advertised job
vacancies, it can also pay to apply speculatively
to companies by sending a copy of your CV with
a covering letter detailing your interest and the
type of position that you are seeking. Remember

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Tel: 020 7815 6710/6431
Website:           Updated by EB Mar 2010

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