Tourism: a career on the move

Careers in tourism are more than just a source of income; they offer innovation, excitement and opportunity.

Tourism is one of the largest and fastest growing economic sectors in the world. In 2010, a record 940 million international tourists spent around US$919 billion on their trips abroad. Domestic tourism is estimated at four times international tourism; that is, close to four billion domestic tourists in 2010 alone.

Tourism: A career on the move

“There has perhaps been no better time to embark on a career 
in tourism”

As such a dynamic and rapidly growing sector, the career opportunities in tourism are many and diverse. The sector is one of the world’s largest employers, accounting for one in every twelve jobs globally. From hotel managers to tour guides, event planners to pilots, tourism promises an exciting and rewarding career.

Once within the tourism sector, opportunities for growth and advancement are plentiful. There are few other areas in which employees are offered such scope for progression, with career paths leading rapidly to managerial positions and opportunities for business start-ups.

So, tourism represents big business and 
big opportunities.

But tourism offers far more than just an income. Becoming part of the tourism community means being involved in one of the most effective instruments for development in the 21st century. As tourist arrivals in developing countries steadily increase, tourism has become one of the main sources of economic growth and development for some of the world’s poorest communities. Tourism is today among the top three sources of export earnings for nearly half of the world’s Least Developed Countries (LDCs).

At the same time, tourism is leading the response to many of today’s global challenges, including climate change. Many of the most innovative technologies currently being employed to reduce carbon emissions are being developed and implemented by hotels and airlines. Working in tourism means working in a sector that is constantly adapting and evolving, through innovation and creativity, to an ever changing world.

As traditional economic sectors lose relevance, and in the face of growing environmental consciousness and economic hardship, tourism promises to be one of the most dynamic and economically significant sectors of the next decade. In 2011, tourism continues to grow, with international tourist arrivals up 4.5% in the first four months of the year. Looking ahead, arrivals are on course to hit the one billion mark in the near future and 1.5 billion by 2020. There has perhaps been no better time to embark on a career 
in tourism.


The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), a United Nations specialised agency, is the leading international organisation with the decisive and central role of promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. It serves as a global forum for tourism policy issues and a practical source of tourism know-how. Its membership includes 154 countries, seven territories, two permanent observers and over 400 Affiliate Members.

Written by Márcio Favilla (2011)
UNWTO Executive Director
World Tourism Organization
Márcio is responsible for the UNWTO.Themis Foundation