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Tourism, Travel and Hospitality


Provides high-level information on the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality industry.

The Tourism, Travel and Hospitality industry is a large and diverse industry and is comprised of a number of sectors:

  • Cookery
  • Hospitality
  • Events and Exhibitions
  • Tourism and Travel.

Nationally recognised training for Tourism, Travel and Hospitality occupations are delivered under the SIT -Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Training Package.

For more information and data specific to CookeryEventsHospitality and Tourism and Travel please visit the respective pages. 

All sectors cater to both domestic and international markets and are significant in driving economic growth in Australia. These sectors represent a range of business types and services, which in many cases are interconnected. For example, Tourism incorporates a complex combination of overlapping sectors including those listed above (e.g. Events and Exhibitions, Hotels, Holiday Parks and Resorts, etc.) and impacts the Transportation and Retail sectors. Events and Exhibitions draw on various services, including marketing, audio-visual systems, catering, transport and accommodation. Economic activity is therefore extensive across all these interrelated sectors and additionally impacts many secondary industries.

Information sourced from the most recently available Skills Forecast, the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.


IRC and skills forecasts

The Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC was not required to submit an annual update to their 2019 Skills Forecast during 2020. As such, the version published in 2019 remains the most recently published Skills Forecast for this industry.

Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Industry Reference Committee

Industry cluster snapshot

Please note: any employment projections outlined below were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics prior to COVID-19.

Employment and training snapshot

Employment levels in the Accommodation and Food Industry declined significantly in 2020 to 654,300, this is after an extended period of growth that peaked at 925,300 in 2019. Projections calculated prior to COVID-19 show an increase in employment levels to 1,009,400 by 2024.

The growth between 2000 and 2019 has largely been in the Cafes, Restaurants and Takeaway Food Services sector, while significant declines between 2019 and 2020 occurred across all sectors, and projections calculated prior to COVID-19 indicate increased employment levels by 2024 across all sectors.

The number of program enrolments in the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Training Package have increased to approximately 195,690 in 2020 after a trough of roughly 188,340 in 2018. Program completions have continued to trend down after peaking at close to 73,510 in 2017, with approximately 58,690 completions recorded in 2019.

The majority of enrolments at a subject level have been in subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program, with this figure remaining at more than 80% between 2017 and 2019.

For more detailed information on the sectors within the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality industry, please visit the respective pages.

Industry insights

The Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies four key priority soft skills for the industry, and acknowledges that although technical skills are imperative to performing job tasks, the following soft skills are what employers will be looking for above and beyond technical skills:

  • Teamwork and communication
  • Resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility
  • Problem solving
  • Self-management.

In addition to the above key priority skills, the following generic skills were identified as most important to the industry:

  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence
  • Customer service/Marketing
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management
  • Managerial/Leadership
  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN).

Several challenges currently face the industry as it tries to meet a growing demand for skilled workers, while also achieving growth and success into the future. The significant challenges being experienced in accessing and retaining skilled workers include a decline in enrolments in relevant VET qualifications, graduates not possessing key skills, and reported skills and knowledge shortages in communication, teamwork and problem-solving. The challenges associated with attracting and retaining an appropriately skilled workforce in the Tourism industry are further exacerbated by the nature of the industry being predominantly made up of small businesses, and having a highly casual and seasonal workforce, as identified in the Tourism, Education and Training report.

Further compounding the industry challenges in recruiting and retaining skilled workers, are recent changes to visa 457 legislation which has created additional pressures for employers when trying to access workers. The Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast also suggests that employers have not been able to fill job roles due to a lack of applicants, and the skills and knowledge-base of applicants and entrants to the industry were also lacking in the key areas of communication, teamwork, problem solving, business skills, online and social media, and general product and service content.

In an attempt to address workforce skills issues, the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast proposed an update to specific qualifications and skills sets within the training package. Please see the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast for the full list of qualifications and skill sets being reviewed for updates.

COVID-19 impact

COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality industry, with the long-term consequences yet to be fully realised. According to a report by Tourism Research Australia the closure of international borders, intrastate travel restrictions and grounding of airlines is expected to result in a prolonged period of severe disruption and slow recovery. It has been estimated by the Air Transport Association that air passenger numbers won’t return to 2019 levels until 2023-24.

The September publication of the Business Indicators, Business Impacts of COVID-19 by the ABS highlights the Accommodation and Food Services industry as one of the top reporting industries for having made long-term modifications to the way they operate as a result of COVID-19, identifying as one of the top two industries in the following modification types:

  • Changed the types and range of products and services offered by the business (26%)
  • Changed the way products or services are provided to customers (36%)
  • Changed operating hours including opening by appointment only (25%)
  • Changed staff roles or duties (26%)

In addition, the quarterly tourism labour statistics released by the ABS for June 2020 demonstrate the significant decrease in tourism jobs, with a decrease of 15% in tourism filled jobs between the June 2019 and June 2020 quarter, as well the June 2020 quarter representing the lowest number of tourism filled jobs since the June 2014 quarter. The tourism sectors which recorded the largest decrease in tourism filled jobs between the June 2019 and June 2020 quarter were sports and recreation services (down by almost 40%), accommodation (down by roughly 27%) and cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (down by almost 16%).

Although proposed by the Aged Care IRC, a project relevant to this industry is currently underway to equip qualified cooks and Chefs with the additional skills to work in a Residential Aged Care setting through a new Residential Aged Care Cookery Skill Set. This proposal was approved by the AISC Emergency Response Sub-Committee and is now being progressed by the IRC, please visit SkillsIQ for the most recent updates. Once approved, this Skill Set will provide additional skills to qualified cooks and chefs, allowing them to move quickly into the aged care sector in the short-term.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.


Relevant research

Business Indicators, Business Impacts of COVID-19 – Australian Bureau of Statistics

Moving Forward – The Role of Domestic Travel in Australia’s Tourism Recovery – Tourism Research Australia

Tourism, Education and Training – Australian Trade and Investment Commission

Tourism Satellite Accounts: Quarterly Tourism Labour Statistics, Australia, Experimental Statistics – Australian Bureau of Statistics


Government bodies

APEC Tourism Working Group

Australian Trade Commission (Austrade)

Destination NSW

South Australian Tourism Commission

Tourism & Events Queensland

Tourism Australia

Tourism Research Australia

Tourism NT

Tourism Tasmania

Tourism Victoria

Tourism Western Australia

Visit Canberra


State-based industry associations

NSW Business Chamber - Tourism

Queensland Tourism Industry Council

Tasmanian Hospitality Association

Tourism Council of WA

Tourism Industry Council South Australia

Victoria Tourism Industry Council


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Accommodation Association of Australia

Australian Culinary Federation

Australian Federation of Travel Agents Ltd

Australian Hotels Association

Australian Regional Tourism Network

Australian Tourism Export Council

Caravan Industry Association of Australia

Clubs Australia

Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia

International Air Transport Association

Restaurant & Catering Australia

Tourism Accommodation Australia

Tourism Hospitality Catering Institute of Australia

Tourism and Transport Forum Australia

YHA Australia


Employee associations

Australian Services Union

United Workers Union

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2020, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal by I digit ANZSIC Accommodation and Food Services, and

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit, employment projections to May 2024

    • 440 Accommodation
    • 451 Cafes, Restaurants and Takeaway Food Services
    • 452 Pubs, Taverns and Bars
    • 453 Clubs (Hospitality)
    • 722 Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1 August 2020

  • Employed total, 2000 to 2020, May quarter by I digit ANZSIC Accommodation and Food Services, and the following 3 digit ANZSIC
    • 440 Accommodation
    • 451 Cafes, Restaurants and Takeaway Food Services
    • 452 Pubs, Taverns and Bars
    • 453 Clubs (Hospitality)
    • 722 Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Student and Courses by Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Training Package.

Priority skills data has been extracted from the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Updated: 23 Nov 2020
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