Understanding the travel and tourism labour market

Understanding the travel and tourism labour market
Understanding the travel and tourism labour market

Tourism in the UK is a vital source of economic activity, contributing to GDP and supporting jobs across the UK’s regions and nations through a mix of inbound, outbound and domestic tourism. In seeking to understand more closely the scale and structure of employment within the UK’s travel and tourism industry, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) was commissioned by ABTA to undertake a detailed study of employment associated with tourism activity. 

  • The travel and tourism industry employed around 1.7 million people in 2012, equivalent to around 5.8% of the UK’s workforce. This included 789,000 full-time employees (FTEs), 674,000 part-time employees and 236,000 self-employed workers.
  • This scale of direct employment amounted to around 1.3 million FTEs in 2012. This included over 600,000 FTEs in the accommodation and food and beverages sectors; and a further 205,000 FTEs in the retail sector. In addition, 2012 saw the travel and tourism industry indirectly support the employment of an estimated 680,000 FTEs along its supply chain.
  • Part-time working is more important in travel and tourism than it is in the wider economy. Over the five years from 2008 to 2012, part-time employees represented nearly two-fifths (39.0%) of total travel and tourism employment. This compares to just under a quarter (22.7%) in the UK as a whole.
  • The travel and tourism industry provides more opportunities for female employment than is seen in the economy as a whole. Over the period 2008-12, women made up 51.4% of total employment in the travel and tourism industry. The equivalent proportion in the wider UK labour market was 46.3%.
  • Almost a third (31.9%) of travel and tourism workers are under the age of 30, while over half (50.6%) are under the age of 40. Amid an ageing UK labour force and population, tourism provides an important source of work opportunities for young people.
  • The employment provided by the travel and tourism industry supports many people who require more flexibility in their work patterns, who are pursuing their education, or seeking to improve their skills sets.
  • This is reflected in job tenures – in 2012, employees within the travel and tourism industry had spent an average of 6.1 years with their current employer. This is lower than almost all other sectors, and reflects the prevalence of flexible, part-time and temporary working in the sector.
  • Tourism workers during 2012 earned an average salary of £19,500, compared with £26,800 in the UK as a whole. However, average weekly hours are lower in tourism (31.0) than in the broader economy (33.0), while the prevalence of temporary and seasonal work is higher, supporting greater flexibility.
  • Elementary occupations make up over a quarter (27.1%) of job roles in tourism, highlighting how tourism provides opportunities which can suit comparatively young, lower-skilled or part-time employees, including those just starting out in their careers.