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Overview

This page provides information and data on the Tourism, Travel and Accommodation sectors.

The Tourism industry encapsulates all businesses that provide goods or services to facilitate leisure and business activities away from the ‘home’ environment. Tourism has become one of the largest industries in Australia, serving the needs of both domestic and international visitors within the country.

Tourism generally represents the delivery of services to visitors (both domestic and international) who travel for personal, leisure and/or business-related purposes.

The Travel sector encompasses travel agencies and tour arrangement agencies which act as intermediaries in distributing travel services on behalf of service producers.

The accommodation sector incorporates aspects of the Hospitality and Tourism sector and primarily provides customers access to resorts, hotels, holiday parks, caravan parks and camping grounds that offer options for either short-term or long-term accommodation.

Nationally recognised training in the Tourism sector is delivered under the SIT – Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Training Package.

For more information the Cookery, Events and Hospitality industries, please click the respective links. 

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

 

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

Employment levels in the Tourism sector have been variable. The Accommodation sector peaked at 117,200 in 2015, however employment levels have declined overall from 105,600 in 2001 to 92,400 in 2021, with the most significant decline occurring between 2019 and 2020 (from 105,500 to a trough of 76,400). Both Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services, and Museum Operation also declined between 2019 and 2021, with Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services recording the most notable drop between these two sectors (from a peak of 51,900 to 25,000). Employment projections indicate increases in employment levels by 2025 across all three sectors, with the largest increase projected for Museum Operation (up 75%).

Key occupations in the Tourism sector which are projected to grow by more than 5% in the coming years include Advertising, Public Relations and Sales Managers (23%) and Conference and Event Organisers (7%). The remaining occupations are projected to remain steady to 2025.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments in Tourism-related qualifications have declined to 15,810 in 2020 after a period of steady decline between 2016 and 2018 (from 25,090 to 18,660) and an increase to 19,190 in 2019. Program completions have followed this trend, falling to 5,700 in 2020 following a similar period of decline between 2016 and 2018 (from 9,880 to 7,010) and a slight increase in 2019 to 7,650.

Almost three quarters of all enrolments were at the certificate III (44%) or certificate II (29%) level, followed by the certificate IV (14%) and diploma or higher (12%) levels. More than half of all training was in Tourism qualifications (54%), followed by Travel (19%), Travel and Tourism (13%) and Travel and Tourism Management (12%) qualifications, with a variety of intended occupations including Travel Consultant, Tourism and Travel Advisers, Tourist Information Officer, and Conference and Event Organiser.  

Over half of all training was delivered by private training providers (54%), while TAFE institutes delivered 34% of training. There was some variation between qualifications, with private training providers delivering close to two thirds of the training for Travel (63%), while a higher proportion of training for Guiding (89%) and Holiday Parks and Resorts (77%) were delivered by TAFE institutes. Overall, 58% of training was Commonwealth and state funded, followed by domestic fee for service (24%) and international fee for service (18%). Commonwealth and state funding was higher for schools (97%), universities (90%) and TAFE institutes (76%), while domestic fee for service accounted for more than two thirds of all funding for community education providers (67%).

The largest proportion of students resided in Queensland (29%), followed by New South Wales (19%), overseas and Victoria (14% each). The majority of training was delivered in Queensland (30%) and New South Wales (25%), followed by 20% in Victoria and 13% in Western Australia.

Both commencements and completions for apprentices and trainees declined significantly between 2019 and 2020 (by 73% and 63% respectively), with 880 commencements and 900 completions in 2020. Commencements have been in decline since the peak of 3,670 in 2016 while completions have been more variable, recording increases of 22% in 2014 (from 1,660 in 2013 to 2,030), of 16% in 2017 (from 2,070 in 2016 to 2,410), and of 56% in 2019 (from 1,570 in 2018 to 2,440). The main intended occupation was Travel Consultant. The highest proportion of apprentices and trainees in training was reported by Victoria (32%), followed by Queensland (28%), New South Wales (14%), Western Australia (12%) and South Australia (7%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, please visit NCVER’s Data Builder.

For more data specific to your region visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, please sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

According to the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the top priority skills for the industry (inclusive of the Tourism, Travel and Accommodation sectors) are:

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

In addition, the top key generic skills for the industry (inclusive of the Tourism, Travel and Accommodation sectors) as identified by the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast are:

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

The top Accommodation Services-related occupations reported by the job advertisement data as being in demand included Domestic Cleaners, Chefs, and Accommodation and Hospitality Managers, with the Marriott, Merivale Group and Intercontinental Hotels Group PLC identified as the top employers. In addition, the top generic skills in demand for this sector, as per job vacancy data, were communication skills, organisational skills and detail-orientated.

The most common Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services-related occupation reported by the job advertisement data as being in demand was Travel Consultant, with Flight Centre Australia and Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia identified as the top employers. In addition, the top generic skills in demand for this sector, as per job vacancy data, were communication skills, organisational skills and Microsoft Excel.

Several factors had been identified in the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast as posing challenges and opportunities to the industry. These included changes around government legislation and regulation, skills and knowledge shortages, limited career progression, staff retention, and new technologies and digitisation.

Although the industry offers a variety of career pathways, it was highlighted in the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast that many of these pathways are unknown, and the prevalence of young and casual workers may create the perception that career pathways are limited. Steps are being taken to streamline qualifications and create new pathways to support the entry to, and visibility of, career progression across the sector. Linked to the prevalence of a young and casual workforce is the challenge of staff retention. The median age of the workforce is 26, significantly lower than the national average of 40 years. It has been raised that younger workers tend to have other commitments such as study, and been suggested that employers have concerns about attitude and reliability among the sectors workforce. In addition, regional areas are impacted by the migration of younger workers to cities and coastal areas, resulting in a limited pool of workers. The importance of creating visible career pathways has been reflected in the Queensland Tourism Workforce Plan, which suggests the industry needs to develop a distinct brand that promotes the industry as a desirable career opportunity.

New technology and digitisation have meant the required skills of the workforce are changing and will continue to change to reflect new working environments. Some of the key technological changes impacting the Tourism, Travel and Accommodation sectors include:

  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) being used by businesses for content marketing to enhance the customers experience
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) Travel Bots are used as virtual chatbots and assistants to address holiday and travel enquiries
  • M-commerce which includes buying and selling via smartphones and tablets, including mobile content purchases such as those made via ‘apps’.

The South Australian Visitor Economy Sector Plan 2030 clearly outlines the importance of front-line capability among tourism businesses in order to sustain and grow towards future revenue and tourism targets. Through widespread industry consultation as a part of formulating this plan for the South Australian visitor economy, it was identified that industry requires ongoing development and training in a range of areas, including ongoing business training, digital skills enhancement, customer service standards, tailoring experiences to emerging markets, encouraging entrepreneurship, professionalisation of business delivery, development and availability of commissionable products, and availability of quality consumer research to underpin operational and investment decisions.

Changing consumer preferences have been noticed in the Accommodation sector, with accommodation preferences among travellers changing over time according to the Tourism, Travel and Hospitality IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast. This includes the growth in popularity of caravan parks and camping grounds (an increase of 9% between 2017 and 2018, mainly attributed to younger visitors aged 20 to 29), as well as licensed serviced apartments being a particularly popular choice among international and domestic visitors as an alternative to hotels. There is however, evidence of hoteliers adapting to changing consumer preferences, with the report State of the Industry 2018–19 highlighting a 152% increase in traditional hotel and accommodation listings on the Airbnb platform worldwide.

The Australian Tourism in 2020 report disclosed that during the Black Summer Bushfires at the start of 2020 - some of the worst bushfires in Australia’s history - Australia suffered loss of life, damage to property, and devastation to wildlife and natural landscapes. As the bushfires were reported extensively by international media, the accompanying footage featuring photos and videos led to perceptions that the bushfires were more widespread than they actually were, damaging Australia’s reputation as a pristine tourism destination.

The Keeping Hotel Staff: Are Training and Pathways the Answer? article claims some of Australia’s most iconic travel destinations have been handicapped by a lack of tourism and hotel staff, with Hamilton Island being just one holiday destination that has been forced to run at reduced capacity because they can’t attract the necessary tourism and hotel staff. With international borders closed, Australian workers are reluctant to travel to distant destinations unless they are offered big wages and job certainty. The CEO of the largest hotel operator in Australia and New Zealand believes the secret to retaining staff in his industry was not necessarily higher wages but instead powerful incentives, such as definite career pathways.

COVID-19 impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on tourism, with effects felt in domestic and international flights, hotel occupancy, business and employment, and tourism generated by national and international students.

The Victorian Government’s Inquiry into the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the tourism and events sectors reports that the pandemic has created a number of new problems and exacerbated existing issues which challenge the short-, medium- and long-term recovery of the sector. These include economic and financial impacts, workforce retention and skills shortages, the lack of available and affordable housing for tourism workers in rural and regional areas, and the lack of operator and public confidence due to the ongoing threat of sudden border closures and snap lockdowns.

The Australian Tourism in 2020 report revealed while the industry faced sharp declines across all sectors, tourism experienced a tentative, domestic-led recovery in the months that followed the international and state border closures. Australia’s success in containing Covid-19 allowed for mobility - albeit with restrictions – which facilitated the restart of domestic tourism. The industry also sought to capture domestic travellers that would have holidayed overseas, with Australians spending $65 billion travelling overseas in 2019, with $43 billion of this being for a holiday.

FutureNow’s Museums, Galleries and Libraries Industry Snapshot supports this finding, noting  Western Australia’s cultural institutions, particularly in the regions, enjoyed an influx of Western Australian tourists following the closure of the state borders. Industry are hopeful that increased awareness of the ‘hidden gems’ of Australia’s cultural collections will drive Australians to treasure and engage with their own local histories more.

In May 2020, the Queensland Premier announced a $7.5 million package to address a critical shortage of workers at tourism businesses in regional Queensland, including cash incentives and free travel for workers taking up a tourism job in regional Queensland. In the WA recovery plan, the WA Government revealed a $14.4 million Government package to help small tourism operators across WA refocus their businesses in response to the pandemic.

The ACT jobs and recovery plan outlines the Government's future investment to protect local jobs in the travel and tourism sector after the pandemic, including:

  • A new domestic tourism marketing campaign
  • A Tourism Cooperative Marketing Fund, to provide matched funding to businesses to collaborate on innovative marketing campaigns that drive visitation and increase awareness of Canberra as a leisure travel destination
  • Working with Canberra International Airport and state, federal and national governments to identify opportunities to recommence domestic and international flights
  • Encouraging Canberrans to experience their own city and support local business
  • Waiving vehicle registration fees for tourism operators.

Links and resources

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

IRC and skills forecast

Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Industry Reference Committee

 

Relevant research

ACT Jobs and Recovery Plan – Australian Capital Territory, Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate

Australian Tourism in 2020 – Tourism Research Australia

Inquiry into the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Tourism and Events Sectors – Victorian Parliament, Legislative Council, Economy and Infrastructure Committee

Keeping Hotel Staff: Are Training and Pathways the Answer? – Grantlee Kieza

Museums, Galleries and Libraries Industry Snapshot – FutureNow Creative and Leisure Industries Training Council

Premier Calls on Australians to “Work in Paradise” with New Tourism Campaign – Annastacia Palaszczuk and Stirling Hinchliffe

Queensland Tourism Workforce Plan – Jobs Queensland

State of the Industry 2018–19 – Tourism Research Australia

The South Australian Visitor Economy Sector Plan 2030 – South Australian Tourism Commission

WA Recovery Plan – Western Australia. Department of the Premier and Cabinet

 

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

NSW Business Chamber - Tourism

Queensland Tourism Industry Council

Tasmanian Hospitality Association

Tourism Council Western Australia

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 NSW

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 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit, employment projections to May 2025
    • 722 Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services
    • 891 Museum Operation
    • 440 Accommodation.
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2025
    • 4516 Tourism and Travel Advisers
    • 1421 Retail Managers
    • 6394 Ticket Salespersons
    • 1311 Advertising Public Relations and Sales Managers
    • 4514 Gallery Museum and Tour Guides
    • 5111 Contract Program and Project Administrators
    • 1493 Conference and Event Organisers
    • 1412 Caravan Park and Camping Ground Managers
    • 8991 Caretakers.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 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 2021, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total, 2001 to 2021, May quarter
    • 722 Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services
    • 891 Museum Operation
    • 440 Accommodation.

 

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by selected industries and selected 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.

                                                                                                                                               

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Student and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • SIT07 Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Training Package.
  • Guiding
    • SIT30316 - Certificate III in Guiding
    • SIT30512 - Certificate III in Guiding
    • SIT30513 - Certificate III in Guiding
    • SIT40112 - Certificate IV in Guiding
    • SIT40216 - Certificate IV in Guiding.
  • Holiday Parks and Resorts
    • SIT20509 - Certificate II in Holiday Parks and Resorts
    • SIT20512 - Certificate II in Holiday Parks and Resorts
    • SIT30416 - Certificate III in Holiday Parks and Resorts
    • SIT31209 - Certificate III in Holiday Parks and Resorts
    • SIT31212 - Certificate III in Holiday Parks and Resorts
    • SIT40316 - Certificate IV in Holiday Parks and Resorts
    • SIT40809 - Certificate IV in Holiday Parks and Resorts
    • SIT40812 - Certificate IV in Holiday Parks and Resorts
    • SIT50216 - Diploma of Holiday Park and Resort Management
    • SIT50409 - Diploma of Holiday Parks and Resorts
    • SIT50412 - Diploma of Holiday Parks and Resorts.
  • Tourism
    • SIT10107 - Certificate I in Tourism (Australian Indigenous Culture)
    • SIT10112 - Certificate I in Tourism (Australian Indigenous Culture)
    • SIT10116 - Certificate I in Tourism (Australian Indigenous Culture)
    • SIT20107 - Certificate II in Tourism
    • SIT20112 - Certificate II in Tourism
    • SIT20116 - Certificate II in Tourism
    • SIT30107 - Certificate III in Tourism
    • SIT30112 - Certificate III in Tourism
    • SIT30116 - Certificate III in Tourism
    • SIT30207 - Certificate III in Tourism (Retail Travel Sales)
    • SIT30307 - Certificate III in Tourism (Tour Wholesaling)
    • SIT30407 - Certificate III in Tourism (Visitor Information Services)
    • SIT30507 - Certificate III in Tourism (Guiding)
    • SIT40107 - Certificate IV in Tourism (Guiding)
    • SIT40207 - Certificate IV in Tourism
    • SIT50107 - Diploma of Tourism
    • SIT60107 - Advanced Diploma of Tourism
    • THT20502 - Certificate II in Tourism (Operations)
    • THT60102 - Advanced Diploma of Tourism Management.
  • Travel
    • SIT30212 - Certificate III in Travel
    • SIT30216 - Certificate III in Travel
    • SIT31312 - Certificate III in Travel
  • Travel and Tourism
    • SIT40116 - Certificate IV in Travel and Tourism
    • SIT40212 - Certificate IV in Travel and Tourism
    • SIT50112 - Diploma of Travel and Tourism
    • SIT60112 - Advanced Diploma of Travel and Tourism
  • Travel and Tourism Management
    • SIT50116 - Diploma of Travel and Tourism Management
    • SIT60116 - Advanced Diploma of Travel and Tourism Management.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 subject enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 program completions.

 

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document. 

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

SIT07 Tourism, Travel and Hospitality Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee collection, including:

  • 2011 to 2020 commencements
  • 2011 to 2020 completions
  • apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2020 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

 

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Accommodation Services.
  • Generic skills/Occupations
    • Technicians and Trades Workers
    • Community and Personal Service Workers
    • Labourers
    • Managers
    • 44 Accommodation.
  • Employers
    • 811311 Domestic Cleaner
    • 351311 Chef
    • 141999 Accommodation and Hospitality Managers nec
    • 431511 Waiter
    • 141111 Cafe or Restaurant Manager
    • 44 Accommodation.
  • Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services.
  • Generic skills/Occupations
    • Managers
    • Technicians and Trades Workers
    • Community and Personal Service Workers
    • 722 Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services.
  • Employers
    • 451612 Travel Consultant
    • 131112 Sales and Marketing Manager
    • 351311 Chef
    • 142116 Travel Agency Manager
    • 431999 Hospitality Workers nec
    • 722 Travel Agency and Tour Arrangement Services.
Updated: 21 Jan 2022
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