Employment in the Tourism Industry to Grow Significantly

Economic Review, May 2011 | Go to article overview

Employment in the Tourism Industry to Grow Significantly


The travel and tourism industry is one of the largest and most dynamic industries in today's global economy. It is expected to generate about 9 percent of total GDP and provide more than 235 million jobs in 2010, representing 8 percent of global employment Last November, over 150 government, employer and worker delegates from more than 50 countries, meeting at the ILO's Global Dialogue Forum on New Developments and Challenges in the Hospitability and Tourism Sector discussed new developments and challenges in the sector. The Forum was opened by Mr. Talib Rifai, Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UN WTO) and Mr. Juan So ma via, Director-General of the ILO.

Compared to other sectors of the global economy, the industry is one of the fastest growing, accounting for more than one-third of the total global service trade. The ILO Forum addressed the high intensity of labour within the industry, making it a significant source of employment and placing it among the world's top creator of jobs that require varying degree of skills and allow for quick entry into the workforce by youth, women and migrant workers.

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According to an ILO report prepared for the Forum, international tourism was affected but the global economic and social crisis but is projected to grow significantly over the coming decade. The United Nations World Tourisms Organization (UNWTO) is expecting the sector's global economy to provide 296 million jobs by 2019.

The tourism sector suffered a decline beginning in the second half of 2008 and intensifying in 2009 after several consecutive years of growth. A sharp reduction in tourist flows, length of stay and spending, as well as increased restrictions on business travels expenses, led to a significant contraction of economic activity in the sector worldwide.

Among the most affected during the crisis were international tourist arrivals, decreasing by 4 percent in 2009, while international tourism revenues were projected to go down 6 percent by the end of 2009. The regions hit hardest by the decline in worldwide international tourism were the Middle East (-4.9 percent), Europe (-5.7 percent), and the Americas (-4.6 percent). Only Africa showed constant growth (+2.9 percent), based on a comparatively low travel volume.

Despite the crisis, global employment in the tourism industry increased by about 1 percent between 2008 and 2009, the report says. But there were significant regional differences with respect to the impacts of the crisis on employment in hotels and restaurants. While the Americas suffered a 1.7 percent decrease in employment, employment in Asia and the Pacific region remained resilient, gaining 4.6 percent.

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A need for more social dialogue

On the second day of the Forum a panel discussed new ideas concerning the huge potential for social dialogue in the sector and sustainable forms of tourism with a strong poverty reduction potential. The panel addressed good practices that could be shared with other developing countries, particularly with the framework of South-South Development cooperation.

It was observed that the challenging work environment in the toruism industry also enhances the value of social dialogue in the workplace and, where such processes are formalized, they create real opportunities for constructive collaboration within major companies in the hotel and tourism sector. …

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