Tourism makes up a huge portion of the world’s service sector jobs; approximately one-third, to be exact. This means that there are tons of jobs to be found in this sector, pretty much anywhere in the world. This is particularly true in places that rely on tourism for the economy. For example, tropical islands and places with important historical landmarks. Think of the places you would most want to go on vacation and that is likely where tourism jobs are bound to be.
One of the benefits of these types of jobs is that many employers will seek short-term employees to fulfill their needs during peak season. This is great for travelers because it means you can work during certain months of the year and save for traveling the rest of the year. For example, you can work the summer season in a location that attracts tons of summer beachgoers and if you make enough you can travel during the winter. Tourism jobs can be seasonal if needed. Check out our article on Seasonal Employment for more on that.
Another benefit of these types of jobs is that you meet a ton of people and, because most of the people you will meet are tourists, you are generally meeting like-minded people. You may even find great travel companions that you can explore the area you are working with on your off-hours or make plans to travel for longer periods with once you finish your current gig.
Tourism jobs are perfect for outgoing people and people who like to get to know new people. As these jobs are in the services sector, the right candidate is people-oriented and friendly. Language is also very important for these types of jobs. Native English speakers particularly are almost always in high demand, especially in more remote parts of the world where English is not the native language. Many hotels and resorts like to have staff on board that can speak various languages so that they can cater to a larger potential pool of tourists. When applying or trying to convince somewhere to take you on, make sure to highlight your language skills.
Think you meet this description? The following highlights the types of jobs available in this industry.
If you have stayed in a hostel, you have probably come across foreign staff members who seem to be having a pretty good time working and chilling behind the front desk. Hostels have high turnover, so they often prefer to hire long-term travelers who plan on spending at least a few months in one location. This is a great option for travelers looking to save some money, as many hostels offer a free room or room and board as part of or in lieu of your salary.
Perhaps surprisingly, hostel jobs can actually be highly competitive, especially in places with large numbers of tourists. The popularity of hostel jobs has grown tremendously in recent years and as a result, owners are becoming a bit pickier about who they bring on board. Obviously, this is less true in more secluded areas, however, those places don’t often need as much help either.
To be competitive, try to reach out to places before you arrive at your chosen destination. Also, try to build personal relationships as you travel. Many hostel owners have connections in other locations and can help you get employment as you continue your travels. As with other jobs in this sector, sell your language skills and show the person hiring that you have experience in the services sector or that you have the upbeat temperament necessary for working with travelers from all parts of the world. Backpacking knowledge is also a great asset!
As with hostels, hotels are often searching for new staff, as they too often have high turnover. The difference is that hotels tend to hire local staff with knowledge of a foreign language, rather than seeking out foreign employees. Also, hotels have more defined contracts and often expect a certain level of professionalism that may surpass that expected from hostel employees.
The range of jobs available at hotels is much larger, however. You can ask about jobs as wait staff at the restaurant, as a concierge, on the pool staff, behind the front desk, or as a cleaner. Depending on their size, hotels need tons of staff members, which means you could be in luck if you go in and ask for a position. Also check out the sites of major hotel chains, as they will advertise vacancies there as well.
Major cruise ship companies have actually started hiring many more staff members in recent years, as the number of people booking cruises increases. These companies recognize that this type of job is not for everyone and have created great incentives for attracting new talent.
These jobs are definitely not for the faint of heart (or for people who easily get seasick!). Companies offer long-term contracts since they are out on the water for days or weeks (or in some cases months) at a time and need to assure that they are hiring committed staff. You will also have to go through an extensive training period and are expected to work every day when on the ship.
As a reward, you get decent salaries, get to move around to different parts of the world, and are given help with housing during the time you spend on land or at home during off periods.
Where there are tourists, there is food and booze. Busy tourist areas are certain to have a slew of restaurants and bars needing staff. While many places will only hire local staff, many do prefer staff with knowledge of English, or just don’t care what language you speak, as long as you keep the liquor flowing!
This job is particularly good for individuals with prior restaurant or bar experience, but depending on the area, this is not always necessary. The good thing is this kind of experience is super easy to transfer and is the same worldwide. Bars especially are great places for getting temporary work, because they have a constant turnover of staff.
At first glance, flight attendant seems like the perfect job for any traveler. Free flights, constantly traveling to new places and meeting tons of people. What more could you want in a job?!
Yes, you do get great benefits as a flight attendant. The thing about this job though is that salaries often leave much to be desired, there are long training sessions and you have to work long hours. If these things don’t discourage you and you want to get into this line of work, go all in. The more experience you have the better the perks get and the more often you will be put on long-distance flights that offer the best opportunity to explore the world (on the airlines’ tab)!
Tour guide is a great job for slow travelers or people looking to establish roots in a place that’s not home. To get your feet wet, link up with a larger company and ask them how you can help out to start familiarizing yourself with the area. Take some time to really get to know a place, not just on the surface, but more intimately. The more you know about somewhere, the more people will want you to show them around.
A great way to get going on your own is to start a tour in one niche. For example, start a food tour that focuses on local favorites or plan a bar crawl and speak with local vendors to see if they will offer some sort of discount or help you out in any way. Again, get to know the area in a personal way that allows you to offer something that others aren’t.
The tourism industry is huge and there are a seemingly unlimited number of jobs that can fall into this category. Basically, whatever tourists want to do in a specific place, there is a job to meet that demand.
If you're interested in getting a job in tourism or hospitality and would like some inspiration on more types of work, check out our guide - 23 of the Best Jobs for People Who Love to Travel