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Travel and Tourism Jobs and Careers

Travel and tourism are two arms of the same industry, with the availability of cheaper air travel having boosted the international tourism industry. At the same time, the domestic tourism industry has grown enormously, as every region attempts to maximise its income.

As one of the UK's largest industries, it's worth in the region of 80 billion and employs over 1.5 million people - around 7% of all people in employment. Much of the work is in hospitality, i.e., hotels, restaurants, pubs, etc, as well as tourist destinations. Here, we look at three higher profile professions concerned with the organisation of tourism.

Travel Agent Jobs

Travel agents work in agencies, helping customers to select and buy holidays, flights, currency conversion and travel insurance products. Working in retail outlets, they promote holidays and offer specialist knowledge of travel companies, destinations and products.

Most travel agents work in a retail environment in the high street and respond to incoming enquiries. Increasingly, they work online. They may have a specialist area, such as certain geographical areas, or types of holiday, such as adventure trips. They are salespeople, who receive bonus incentives in return for achieving high figures.

Travel Agent Jobs Description

On a day-to-day basis, travel agents are involved in the following activities.

Type of Person and Training

A successful travel agent needs to possess advanced communication and interpersonal skills. With this, they need to have enough energy to incite enthusiasm in the customer, encouraging them to buy a holiday product. A genuine interest in travel is vital.

Sensitivity and tact with regards to the desires of other people are important, as is the ability to remain calm and polite under pressure, particularly during peak times. IT and organisational skills are also critical.

Gaining work in a travel agency doesn't usually require higher qualifications, but NVQ/SVQ levels 1 and 2 in Tourism related subjects are extremely valuable. Higher National Diplomas or foundation degrees in tourism subjects will open up the most desirable positions e.g. with luxury travel agencies. Meanwhile, experience can be gained through temporary or seasonal work in a customer facing, sales environment. Travel experience will also help.

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Tourist Information Officer Jobs

Tourist information centres are a familiar sight in many UK towns. Their main function is to provide information on the town, area and region to visitors, making their stay more enjoyable. The longer tourists spend in the area, the more revenue is generated by the local economy. Smaller Tourist Information Centres are sometimes run by volunteers, while larger Tourist Information Centres are staffed by a combination of paid and voluntary staff.

Key Aspects of Job Description

Type of Person and Training

As with all tourism jobs involving contact with the public, Tourist Information Centre workers need to be great communicators with a genuine interest in helping people. As well as being customer-focused, they need to have the ability to work in a team. Enthusiasm and a friendly approach are essential, as is the ability to solve logistical problems presented by customers. Local knowledge and IT skills are also vital.

There are no set requirements at the basic level of Tourist Information Centre staffing, although voluntary experience of working in a Tourist Information Centre or employment in a customer service role is helpful. NVQ/SVQ qualifications at Level 1 or 2 in tourism subjects vastly improve the chances of gaining paid employment in desirable locations.

Holiday Rep Jobs

Holiday reps are even more involved in ensuring that tourists benefit from positive experiences, as they are located in the domestic and overseas holiday locations, where they act as the face of the tour company. Working for up to 8 months at a time with limited time off, they are tasked with ensuring travel and accommodation arrangements are fulfilled, while handling problems that may arise for the tourists.

Key Aspects of Job Description

Type of Person and Training

As well as a genuine interest in people, holiday representatives need to be especially outgoing and enthusiastic, in order to engage with everybody. Empathy skills need to be strong, as well as tact and sensitivity to the experiences of guests, especially when they are in need of help.

Able to work on their own initiative, the rep also needs to work in a team. Great communication skills and the ability to talk to groups of people are important. A lot of energy is required, as the hours can be long and the work thankless. A self-sufficient approach is helpful, as many weeks are spent away from home. Patience is important, as guests can sometimes be very difficult to please.

Personality and approach are often more important than qualifications, although a Higher National Diploma in a tourism related subject will provide access to the more lucrative jobs with more upmarket companies. Experience in a customer-facing role is usually required, particularly in a leisure or tourism environment. Responsibility with money is also helpful. Most tour operators provide their own training in the month before the season's start.

Travel and Tourism Jobs Sites


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