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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.

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


Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

Employment levels in the Accommodation and Food Services industry declined significantly in 2020 to 652,000 after an extended period of growth that peaked at 924,500 in 2019. Levels have increased to 907,300 in 2022 and are projected to increase further to 971,800 by 2025.

The largest growth between 2002 and 2019 was in the Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services sector, which almost doubled (up 99%) during this time. Other large employment level increases were in the Pubs, Taverns and Bars sector (up 64%) and the Cafes, Restaurants and Takeaway Food Services sector (up 60%), however, significant declines occurred between 2019 and 2020 across all sectors.

Employment levels increased across all sectors in 2021 and 2022 except for Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services, which declined a further 28% in 2021 before increasing by almost one fifth (19%) in 2022. Projections indicate increased employment levels by 2025 across almost all sectors, the exception being Accommodation, which is projected to decline slightly.

Program enrolments in the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Training Package declined from a peak of 213,750 in 2017 to a trough of roughly 188,340 in 2018, before increasing each year to 205,720 in 2021. Program completions have fluctuated, peaking at around 73,620 in 2017 and declining to a low of 59,480 in 2020, before increasing to approximately 65,660 in 2021.

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% since 2017.

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/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 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 2020 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. This has continued in 2021, with statistics showing 11.7% less jobs in September 2021 than in September 2020, and only 1 in 25 (4.0%) filled jobs in the economy. The tourism sectors which recorded the largest decrease in tourism filled jobs between the June 2021 and September 2021 quarters were cafes, restaurants and takeaway food services (down approximately 12%), accommodation (down by roughly 12%) and clubs, pubs, taverns and bars (down almost 9%).

According to Deloitte’s Tourism and Hotel Market Outlook 2021, measures put in place by governments to bring the pandemic under control have remained far longer than expected, with the effects of the crisis on the tourism sector to continue much further even with restrictions relaxing. Tourism remained largely at a standstill for the first half of 2021 as countries grappled with the more infectious Delta variant. Over the nine months to September, global international tourist arrivals were still 76% below pre-pandemic level in 2019.

Border closures also had a flow on effect as the effectively non-existent international migration has led to staff shortages in the hospitality sector. This issue is noted in the ABC report On a Knife’s Edge, which reveals that organisations across the country are facing a hospitality worker shortage chiefly due to a lack of international workers due to border closures - and in some cases, because the previously retrenched staff let go during the pandemic have found other work.

Since the start of the pandemic, total international and domestic visitor expenditure losses till June 2021 reached $106 billion. International tourism into Australia recorded a loss of $56 billion during this period with international borders closed to non-essential travel. Domestic tourism suffered a total loss of $50 billion ($38 billion from overnight travel and $12 billion from day trips). According to National Visitor Survey results, for the year ending September 2021 domestic overnight trips fell 29% to 82.7 million. Regional areas fared slightly better than capital cities during the September 2021 quarter, with overnight trips to regional Australia down 50% to 8.7 million, compared to capital city trips (down 72% to 3.5 million).

The recovery of the tourism, travel and hospitality sectors in Australia will depend on a range of factors, including economic conditions here and overseas, travel restrictions in Australia and overseas, government responses to manage the health crisis and, importantly, consumer confidence to resume travel again.

Links and resources

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

IRC and skills forecasts

Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Industry Reference Committee


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

National Visitor Survey Results September 2021 – Australian Trade and Investment Commission

On a Knife's Edge: Australia's Worker Shortage Sees Some Employers Offer $200k for Staff - Rachel Clayton

Tourism, Education and Training – Australian Trade and Investment Commission

Tourism and Hotel Market Outlook 2021: Executive Summary – Deloitte Access Economics

Tourism Satellite Accounts: Quarterly Tourism Labour Statistics, Australia, Experimental Statistics: June 2020 – Australian Bureau of Statistics

Tourism Satellite Accounts: Quarterly Tourism Labour Statistics, Australia, Experimental Statistics: September 2021 – Australian Bureau of Statistics


Government bodies

APEC Tourism Working Group

Australian Trade and Investment 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

Business NSW - 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

Australian Hotels Association

Australian Regional Tourism

Australian Tourism Export Council

Caravan Industry Association of Australia

Clubs Australia

Exhibition and Event Association of Australasia

International Air Transport Association

Restaurant & Catering

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 2021, Industry Employment Projections viewed 1 August 2021, Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit, employment projections to May 2025
    • 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 2022, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ08 - Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, viewed 1 August 2022,

  • Employed total, 2002 to 2022, 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.

Updated: 30 Nov 2022
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