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Tourism and Travel


Tourism can include travel for leisure and business. People travel for a vast range of reasons, for example for events, health or education, so this industry has a broad influence. 

This sector includes both domestic and international travel and involves the purchase of a wide range of goods and services.  To give a few examples, these may be provided by transport and tour operators, travel agencies, hotels and resorts, theme parks, tour guides, museums and historical sites, restaurants, cafes and clubs.

Sectors in the industry

  • Retail travel
  • Tour wholesaling
  • Information services
  • Tour operations
  • Tour guiding
  • Attractions and theme parks

Employer profile for the industry

13% of Australian businesses (267,000) are in tourism. Approximately 95% of them are micro or small businesses that don’t employ any staff other than the owners.

929,000 people are employed directly or indirectly in the tourism industry (8% of total employment).

Domestic visitors spent $295 million in tourism in 2014 and International visitors spent $216 million.

Overseas Arrivals and Departures data show that the number of Australians holidaying overseas during 2014 increased 8% to 5.4 million; an increase of 145% on the 2004–05 number of 2.2 million.

Source: Skills IQ Environmental Scan for Tourism, Travel and Hospitality

There are about 3,200 employers that operate in the travel agency and tour arrangement services sector. 3,000 of these are small businesses, employing less than 20 people.

Source: ABS, Counts of Australian Businesses, Jun 2012 to Jun 2016

There are about 43,000 people in Australia employed in the travel agency and tour arrangement services sector. This number is expected to rise by 9% to 46,800 by 2020.

Source: Department of Jobs and Small Business Industry Projections - Five Years to November 2020.

Typical features of the workforce

  • Tour guides will guide visitors in galleries and museums, and escort visitors on sightseeing, educational and other tours. There are 9,300 tour guides in employment, and this number is expected to rise to 11,200 by 2020. Women make up 51% of the workforce, and 61% of work is full-time. The most common level of education attainment is Bachelor degree.
  • Tourism and travel advisers plan and organise travel and accommodation for clients, and provide travel and accommodation information to tourists. There are 25,600 tourism and travel advisers in employment, and this number is expected to rise to 33,000 by 2020. Women make up 75% of the workforce, and 76% of work is full-time. The most common level of education attainment is Bachelor degree.
  • Outdoor adventure guides manage outdoor adventure activities such as bungy jumping, fishing and hunting, mountaineering, trekking and white-water rafting. There are 2,600 guides in employment, and this number is expected to rise to 2,900 by 2020. Women make up 40% of the workforce, and 66% of work is full-time. The most common level of education attainment is Bachelor degree.

Source: Australian Government Job Outlook website

Emerging sectors, future growth

Tourism is predicted to be Australia’s second fastest growing industry over the next 20 years. Tourism has a large economic multiplier. For every dollar tourism earns directly in the Australian economy, another 87 cents is added to other parts of the economy.

There is a growing number of high end tourists looking for unique experiences. For example, a Tourism Australia’s Restaurant Australia campaign promoted Australia as a food destination—including flying in 80 international food writers for press tours.

Ecotourism is expected to continue to grow.  Eco-tourists primarily want to visit natural attractions and related cultural assets. To meet their expectations, operators need to be skilled in lands and parks management—and their operations and infrastructure need to be environmentally friendly. Their guides also need to be knowledgeable about local culture.

Indigenous experiences are an opportunity for huge growth, as they are seen to be authentic and unique to the area in which they occur. The connection with meaningful Aboriginal cultural experiences is a unique selling point for Australia and skills development is required to help meet the increased demand for these experiences.

Wellness tourism is another area predicted to grow as consumers look for experiences that benefit their general health and wellbeing. Wellness tourists spend 130% more than the average tourist and cross over into niches like culinary tourism, adventure tourism, agri-tourism, sports tourism and cultural tourism. Wellness tourism is predicted to grow by almost 50% faster than tourism overall.

Ten years ago over 70% of Australians travelling overseas used a conventional travel agent and about a third used alternatives like direct bookings with airlines and hotels. This number is dropping dramatically, as more people book travel and accommodation online. The industry says that the traditional role of the travel agent as the booking agent has changed into one of the adviser, and it’s this customer service that will be critical in sustaining businesses’ profitability in the future.

Source: Skills IQ Environmental Scan for Tourism, Travel and Hospitality

Jobs in Demand

Skills IQ reports labour shortages for Tour Guides, especially in the Northern Territory, and Cruise Specialists.

Source: Skills IQ Environmental Scan for Wholesale, Retail and Personal Services

Key Occupations

Reservations Sales Agent

Tour Operator

Travel Consultant

Inbound Tour Co-ordinator

Visitor Information Officer

International Online Travel Consultant

This industry is positioned in the following groups


Hospitality, Travel & Tourism

Work Type

Helping & Advising

Persuading & Service

Organising & Clerical

Ready to see where Tourism and Travel can take you?

Career Pathways

Tourism and Travel has career pathways from Certificate II through to Diploma.  Look at the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Job Pathway Chart to see what is of interest.

Job Pathway Chart

Practice Aptitude Quiz

This resource illustrates the maths and literacy needed to complete the entry level training in this sector.

Download The Quiz

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Further Research


Industry information is published by peak level associations, government and major employers.  Accessing industry association sites, including member lists, is a good way of building up an understanding of an industry.  Visiting employer websites and looking for careers or employment menus helps identify how employers recruit and the skills they are recruiting.

Use Google to search for the associations and organisations listed below.


  • Tourism & Hospitality Catering Institute of Australia
  • Australian Federation of Travel Agents
  • Australian Tourism Export Council
  • Ecotourism Australia
  • Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia
  • Guiding Organisations Australia
  • Tourism Accommodation Australia
  • Tourism and Transport Forum

Other Useful Links

  • Discover Your Career
  • Tourism Australia
  • Tourism Research Australia