Tag: #sustainabletourismapproach

Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries. According to WTTC, tourism prior to the pandemic accounted for 1 in 4 of all new jobs created across the world, 10.3% of all jobs (333 million), and 10.3% of the global GDP (US $9.6 trillion). Taking the above statistics into consideration, we can conclude that the sector contributes significantly to the economies and employment, being one of the main economic engines for nations. But how is it exactly possible that tourism creates so many jobs?

This article explores all the different employment opportunities tourism provides, explains why they are so important for the industry, and presents some of the challenges in the current workforce stemming mostly from the COVID-19 pandemic:

restaurant workers like these speciality coffee makers contribute meaningfully to the tourism industry

What are the employment opportunities in tourism?

Tourism can provide diversified employment in many different sectors, as the travel industry comprises various activities and services that create an overall tourist experience. Industries within the tourism value chain include accommodation, transport, food and beverage services, entertainment, and many more. Just think of your recent vacation – you first hopped on a plane, booked a hotel, and during your stay, you ate in different restaurants, went to different shops, and maybe even participated in local events. All the above aspects are part of the tourism industry, because you got involved in them as a tourist. 

The employment opportunities in tourism can be divided into those created directly or indirectly. This is because the tourism value chain is exceptionally vast and creates further employment impacts, which are not necessarily limited to tourism. 

man commands river boat, connected to tourism industry

Direct employment in tourism

All jobs where employees are involved in the creation of a direct tourism output fall under the category of direct tourism employment. Examples include hotels, airlines, travel agencies, tour operators, museums, national parks, state parks, cruise lines… and the list goes on. What these industries have in common is their sole focus on tourism – they operate for tourists, and because of tourists.  

Accommodation and transport activities are the most vital and integral ones in the tourism industry. They provide a base from which people can start their travel journey. Within the accommodation sector, there are multiple different types of lodging, ranging from hotels, hostels, B&B’s, or guesthouses. These can be either individually or family-owned, but also belong to the multi-chain operators. Therefore, employment opportunities are endless, as each accommodation type requires both high-skilled and low-skilled workers – from managers, and finance operators, to the housekeeping and cooking team. 

flight attendant connected to tourism industry


Indirect employment in tourism

According to the UNWTO report, “one job in the core tourism industry creates about one and a half additional (indirect) jobs in the tourism-related economy”. Moreover, “there are three workers indirectly dependent on each person working in hotels, such as travel agency staff, guides, taxi and bus drivers, food and beverage suppliers, laundry workers, textile workers, gardeners, shop staff for souvenirs and others, as well as airport employees”. 

Tourism is an extraordinarily labor-intensive industry. Each direct tourism provider carries several different suppliers crucial for the efficient operation of that provider. Some of the examples of indirect employment opportunities that tourism supports are restaurant suppliers, marketing agencies, accounting services, manufacturers, or souvenir producers. They may not be exclusively linked to tourism, but they are essential for its success. Therefore, these types of jobs are also considered part of the tourism industry – just behind the scenes. And when they all add up together, there’s no wonder why tourism holds such a great power to generate employment!

supermarket supplier indirectly connected to tourism

The importance of tourism in providing employment opportunities 

Anyone can start working in tourism

In terms of employment opportunities, tourism is a great industry for anyone starting their career journey. There are many roles that do not require any specific qualifications and are relatively easy to get into – for example in hospitality. This is especially important for young people seeking a part-time job alongside school or university, migrant workers, women, minority groups, and many more. 

People are at the heart of the tourism industry

Given that tourism is such a vast and diverse industry, it can attract people from different backgrounds. Tourism relies on its exceptionally skilled workforce in order to provide high-quality services and experiences to visitors. Therefore, recruiting suitable staff should be at the heart of each tourism business. Tourists’ experiences are highly dependent on the service they are provided, so fostering relationships between human resources and the tourism industry is crucial.

local guide tourism employment

Connecting with local people during travels

Tourism is a tool for poverty alleviation

Tourism can also be a fantastic tool for poverty alleviation, which is especially important in underdeveloped countries. The industry has a great potential to generate direct income for the poor in the places they live. Many tourism businesses are owned by individuals and their families, which in turn enables deeper interactions between guests and host communities. These small-scale businesses often include guesthouses and restaurants as they often do not require much capital to invest into. Therefore, many communities can start making their living through tourism.

One of the greatest examples of how travel connects locals and visitors is ResiRest – a social enterprise that works as an impact connector between local families and travelers. This organization links local home-cooks to international visitors for a unique and authentic food experience. “Eating local” is a fantastic way not only to support local communities, but also allows for more enriching and memorable experiences during travels. And what better way to immerse in a different culture than by trying local food?  

Solimar is also involved in projects that facilitate revenue generation for the host communities – Artisan Development in Morocco is one of many examples. This project aimed to create direct linkages between local artisans and buyers, while decreasing the use of middlemen in sales of the crafts!

Current challenges in the tourism workforce

Although tourism is such a powerful industry for generating employment, it is currently facing significant challenges due to staff shortages. Resolving this issue is essential for tourism’s growth and bouncing back after the Covid-19 pandemic. Travel restrictions made a number of employees move into different industries – therefore, tourism must now compete with other sectors in order to attract new workers. Other contributing factors include the lack of migrant workers, whose number started shrinking dramatically in 2020. For example, when Brexit was introduced in the UK, many people decided to return to their home countries. This has resulted in the lack of a suitable workforce in many industries, not only tourism.

How can we ensure sustainability in the tourism workforce?

In order to attract new talent to the industry, tourism must implement various incentives and re-evaluate its human resources practices. This could be achieved by providing extensive training opportunities to enable people to work their way up in a company. Next, tourism must facilitate flexible and remote work opportunities. This should be executed not only for the employees’ convenience, but also as a way to overcome travel mobility restrictions. Utilizing digital technologies is a great step towards ensuring productive tourism operations as well.

Tourism truly is a one-of-a-kind industry, providing countless opportunities that can really make a positive impact on our society. If done the right way, tourism can be the most viable option for sustainable economic development. Therefore, considering a career journey in this industry leads to fantastic and rewarding opportunities.  

Interested in working with us? Learn more about our virtual internship opportunities here!

A beautiful sunset in Wakatobi, Indonesia

Developing a tourism management plan is challenging for any destination management organization. Working for a destination management organization across multiple islands is even more! Since each island is different, each one is prioritizing different things. Between plastic trash pollution, climate change, access to clean water, and food security, there are many problems that are on the agenda to solve. Wakatobi, a group of four main islands in southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia, face these complex issues in pursuit of sustainable tourism development.

Developing a Tourism Management Plan next to the beautiful ocean where diving is common on Sulawesi, Indonesia
Photo by Lelie Liana

Wakatobi is a rising tourism destination made up of four main islands in Southeast Indonesia. The name “Wakatobi” is derived from the first two letters of each island’s name. Wangi-wangi is the main administrative island and sets the policies for the other three islands; Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko. A hidden gem of tourism, it is described as one of the 10 “new Balis” for tourism by many destination management companies. The beautiful white sand beaches, seemingly infinite availability of fresh seafood, and biodiversity give Wakatobi characteristics of a tropical island that is rare today, prime for sustainable development. It’s also commonly referred to as “The heart of the Coral Reef Triangle”, and you’ll soon understand why. After spending 18 months in this unforgettable travel destination, I understand why the name translates to “enjoying the sunset”.

A beautiful sunset in Wakatobi, Indonesia

By marveling at the beautiful pictures above, most wouldn’t have thought of the problems they may be facing, much less imagined an approach for tourism planning to deal with those complex issues. Here are the four main questions to consider and answer that can help you in your destination management development process:

  • What is Inter Island Development?
  • How can mission goals be identified?
  • How to pick a decision maker?
  • How can you promote sustainable development?

1.What is Inter Island Development, and how should you address it?

As with other destination development challenges in islands, Wakatobi also faces the inter-island development issue. This issue is caused by the diverse character of people on each island, creating the need for different approaches for each island’s development. People who live on the main island of Wangi-Wangi Island have a different language and lifestyle than people on every other island. The question becomes: how can a destination management organization address these diversities?

It is a dilemma – how can the quality of life of the native population be improved while acknowledging we may not all share the same vision due to the diversity of stakeholders.

While each island has its issues, there will always be one more prevalent than the others, and that should be focused on uniting each place under one organization. Even if everyone has a different language, character, or mission, focusing on this key point will bring everyone together.

To start, identify the most prevalent issues in the community. Take a look around you and determine if the community is living in wellness with regard to tourism management. Is the community involved in the tourism management industry? Are there many artisans from the local community? Try to talk with them and find out what issues they may face. This can be done by conducting key stakeholders mapping, and categorizing each issue under a key-stakeholder. Each issue should belong to the main category, and in-depth interviews can be conducted if needed.

a beautiful image of the sunset on Wakatobi, Indonesia a great tourism destination
Beautiful sunsets everyday in Wakatobi. Photo courtesy of Lelie Liana.

2.  How Can We Identify Destination Mission Goals?

Once you have finished mapping the key destination stakeholders and identified the main issues, it is easier to identify the incentives that could bring the stakeholders together. In Sustainable Tourism Development, we call these the destination mission goals. Once you can deliver the incentives to everyone, the challenge of finding a destination management leader begins. Yes, everyone now understands the key issue and what the incentives are once the issue is fixed, but who will decide now to take action? Everyone can’t be a decision-maker, so it’s important to pick one or a few to standardize the issue so everyone understands.

Your next job is to figure out who is the highest official position in that place that is capable of being a “decision-maker”. Deliver the incentives to this person, then let them work on their way to spread the incentives to the larger target in your destination.

Beautiful white sand beach with not many visitors around on Wakatobi, Indonesia
Photo Courtesy of Lelie Liana

3. How to Pick a Decision Maker in Destination Management?

Imagine yourself now with your friend in a jungle, where there is an immense lion that’s ready to attack you. You know you’re in a dangerous situation, and of course, you know that your friend has no idea how to save you. The issue here is that you don’t have time or resources to ask for help, but you know exactly what the condition is. “Who does what?”

This analogy relates to the topic of destination management, where the key stakeholders have already identified both the issue and the key actor as decision-makers. However, there is a missing part about how the plan will be made; the system. The system was created to ensure everything will be run officially, with certain tasks and roles. Those in the system need to understand their roles, so there will be no overlap with others.

Wakatobi, as previously explained, is made up of 4 islands with differences in their communities and culture. To ensure a solution for everyone in the islands, the Bupati (Regent) improved their ecosystem for sustainable tourism development by creating a Tourism Governance Forum. Under this forum, there was an Inter-Island Working Group that each island used to deliver their main tourism issue. This ecosystem worked because it was headed under by the Bupati and acknowledged by the Ministry of Tourism. Their centralization also included official assignments, roles, objectives, and programs.

fish market in Wakatobi, Indonesia. a big potential for tourism
by author Lelie Liana

4. How Can You Promote Sustainable Development Through Developing a Tourism Management Plan?

Sustainable Tourism Development should always be spearheaded by the destination when thinking of sustainability. Destination refers to the ecosystem, key stakeholders, issue, program, and goals of an area. When Wakatobi created Forum Tata Kelola Pariwisata, it created a system that worked for itself. Just because this form of Sustainable Tourism Development is working for inter-island communities doesn’t mean it works everywhere. If needed, destinations can adapt these 4 “How” questions from Wakatobi to fit their own needs.

Interested in developing a tourism management plan for your destination? Take one of our courses to learn more about DMO Development, and learn from other case studies how you can ensure sustainable development. Learn more from the tourism master plans we created in the Northern Great Plains, Republic of Georgia, the Cayman Islands.

Photo courtesy of Lelie Liana.


“We rely confidently on Solimar's deep technical experience and professionalism as tourism consultants. You always are exceeding our expectations.”
Leila Calnan, Senior Manager, Tourism Services Cardno Emerging Markets

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