If you’re thinking about studying tourism and wondering what you can do with a degree in tourism, the answer is “A lot!”
This huge, diverse industry employs no less than one in ten people worldwide and it’s growing. Despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the industry has one of the highest growth rates in Australia this year.
The six segments which make up tourism -- transport, accommodation, tourist boards, events, attractions and tourism services -- are each within themselves broad sectors, offering thousands of exciting career opportunities all over the world.
With a degree in tourism, you could have a career in air travel, museums, hotels, eco-lodges, adventure experiences, theme parks, restaurants, sports, digital travel, music venues or nature conservation. As you can see, there’s something for everyone.
Tourism is constantly changing and adapting to trends and developments in technology so there are lots of new careers emerging every year. One thing’s for certain: you’ll never be bored.
The tricky part for those just starting out is trying to figure out which path is right for you.
A good place to start, especially if you’re weighing up whether you want to enrol, is by asking what a tourism degree actually teaches you.
What types of roles does a tourism degree prepare you for?
One of the great things about tourism and hospitality is that it is an incredibly egalitarian industry. You don’t need a degree or even a high-school certificate to get an entry-level job in a restaurant or a hotel.
However, when you decide you want to get into senior positions in the industry or start your own business, then a tourism degree becomes essential.
Your tourism degree is essentially where you learn all the practical and theoretical skills you need to understand the bigger picture of how tourism and hospitality businesses (and the industry) operate.
For example, some of the core subjects of the Bachelor of Business (Tourism Management) at Torrens University include:
- Tourism Entrepreneurship
- Tourism Strategy Planning and Policy
- Organisational Creativity and Innovation
- Global Innovation and Trends
- Product Distribution and Revenue Management
- Customer Experience Management
- Business Communications
- Place, Culture and Destination Management
- Accounting for Decision Making
- Marketing Fundamentals
A tourism degree is designed to create leaders, managers, entrepreneurs, consultants, specialists or strategists.
Regardless of which specific business or market segment you end up in, if you want a leadership career in the tourism and hospitality industry, then a degree in tourism is a good starting point for your career path.
Graduate jobs to apply for with a degree in tourism
Most graduates of a tourism degree will also work a part-time job while studying or complete an internship as part of their degree. This is a great idea, because many of the roles in tourism available to graduates will expect that you also have some working life behind you, in addition to study. getting support.
Torrens University understands the importance of this experience and the need to graduate job-ready, that’s why our Bachelor of Business (Tourism Management) has two subjects dedicated to working in industry where you’ll gain up to 800 hours of real-world relevant experience. You’ll have the opportunity to work with and build relationships through our extensive industry partnership network.
Trying out different part-time roles while studying will also help you get a feel for which sector or role you’re particularly drawn to, and may even lead to a full-time position later.
Here are a few examples of common roles available to tourism graduates, and some of the future careers that these junior positions typically lead to.
Trainee Hotel Manager
A number of international hotel brands, such as Hilton, have graduate training programs and internships for aspiring hotel managers. Many tourism and hospitality students start their careers through these training programs. With the experience you gain, you can end up in career paths, such as:
- Hotel Manager for an international brand, such as Marriott or Hilton
- Senior Manager of a hostel, boutique hotel or eco-lodge
- Starting your own hotel business
- Consultant for hotels or hotel associations
Assistant Event Planner or Trainee Manager
Events form a large segment of the tourism industry. People travel all over the world to attend events ranging from corporate conferences, trade fairs, private weddings or sports competitions to art and music festivals, such as Glastonbury, or the Venice Biennale.
With a tourism degree and some training as an assistant event manager, you could aim for a career in events across any of these sectors, depending on where your interests lie. Future roles include:
- Manager of an event agency organising group travel experiences
- Events or Activities Executive at a resort or hotel
- National Events Coordinator for an association or large business organisation
- Entertainment and Event Manager at a theme park or tourist attraction
- Director of a large international art or music festival
- Conference Manager for a large venue, hotel or company
Outdoor Recreation Instructor or Guide
Education and travel for personal development are also huge components of the tourism industry. Summer camps, zoos and wildlife parks, school outings, national parks, guided wilderness adventures, Galapagos Island cruises and bird watching tours: these are all examples of organisations providing educational travel experiences in nature. They are often looking for young tourism students or graduates to work as part-time guides, summer managers or junior educators.
If you are passionate about education, science, wildlife conservation or fitness, this career path may be a good fit for you. A senior manager in these kinds of businesses usually starts their career with a junior outdoor education position as an instructor, tour guide, assistant coordinator or educator.
- General Manager of an outdoor education provider
- Manager of an adventure tourism company
- Senior Officer of a national parks division
- Director of a summer recreation camp
- Activities Coordinator at a ski resort or hotel
- Eco-Tourism Consultant advising companies on sustainable practices
- CEO of your own boutique trekking company
Gallery or Museum Assistant Manager
State and regional museums and galleries play an important role in tourism, attracting visitors both as cultural destinations and as venues hosting important cultural exhibitions and events. The Louvre, for example, draws around nine million visitors to Paris every year.
If you are passionate about art and culture, you should consider steering your tourism career towards museums or cultural attractions. Regional museums in particular are often looking for managers or assistant managers, and are more willing to hire recent graduates. Future careers could include:
- Business Manager for a museum, gallery or heritage trust
- Museum Development Officer
- Manager or Strategist for a government arts body
- Exhibitions Manager for a gallery or museum
- Cultural Experiences Officer for a tourism operator or tourism body
- Operations Manager of a gallery or venue
Job Opportunities with a Government Tourist Board
National, regional, local government tourism bodies, such as Tourism Australia, Incredible India and Amazing Thailand, also play a huge role in tourism worldwide. They develop big-picture tourism strategies and channel government resources into important festivals, initiatives and local attractions. Destination NSW, for example, is the government body behind the popular annual Vivid Festival in Sydney.
These organisations are always on the lookout for bright young tourism graduates. Tourism bodies such as these (also commonly called Destination Marketing Organisations or DMOs) often offer junior or graduate positions in research, marketing, and assistant manager roles.
These roles are important stepping stones to influential careers in tourism policy and research. You could end up developing a tourism strategy for an entire country!
- Destination Marketing Consultant
- Project Officer for a state or local government tourism department
- Campaign Manager for a DMO
- Destination Concierge for a tourism company, attraction or DMO
- Chief Operating Officer for a museum, theme-park or attraction
- Marketing Manager for a membership travel company
- Strategist for a regional tourism body
- Sustainable Tourism Consultant
Social Media Marketing Specialist
Social media is hugely important to the tourism and hospitality industry. An increasing number of customers engage with brands on social media, use it to discover and choose their restaurants and destinations and follow the product recommendations of influencers.
If you love travel and tourism and you’re also a social media addict, consider turning your tourism degree into a career in social media marketing specialising in tourism and hospitality businesses. Combining the marketing skills and industry knowledge you learn with your tourism degree and some experience developing social media campaigns, and you’re on your way to a promising career:
- Social Media Manager for a hotel brand
- Digital Communication Specialist for an airline or cruise operator
- Marketing and Media Representative for a tourism board
- Digital Content Manager for an eco-tourism resort or eco-lodge
- Director of Social Media for a luxury wellness resort
- Social Media Strategist for an online booking service
Digital Travel Agent
Savvy customers know how to get the best deals using sites like booking.com, and they want to have control over their holiday bookings. However, there is a new kind of travel agent emerging in the 2021 economy: a digital travel agent who curates memorable experiences.
Interest in off-the-beaten-track experiences, such as cooking or art classes with locals is exploding at present, as demonstrated by the huge growth in the ‘experiences’ offering on Airbnb in recent years.
Coupled with the move to digital, new online travel agents are now moving into the experiences space. Digital agencies, such as Klook and GetYourGuide work with local guides and operators to offer unique, experience-focused travel packages. Many digital agencies hire remote agents and accept recent graduates, so you could be working from anywhere.
Acquiring a digital skill set and getting some experience in this space could open up an exciting future for you in the growing world of digital travel, where there is currently a big digital skills gap. Further careers include:
- Travel App Administrator or Developer
- Digital Booking Agent
- Travel Services Designer helping streamline digital services
- Manager of a virtual reality tour company
- Virtual Travel Agent for an international brand
Kirsten Browne, Program Director, Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Management at Torrens University Australia.