Today, September 27, 2019, is World Tourism Day and, this year, the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) is celebrating with a focus on tourism and jobs.
The organization is highlighting the impact that tourism jobs play in the global economy, which it notes is often undervalued. In fact, according to the UNWTO, tourism generates 10 percent of the world’s jobs and is included in the organization’s “Sustainable Development Goal 8” for its potential to create decent work.
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Because of tourism’s labor-intensive nature, tourism is becoming a major source of employment for many people around the world. In addition, tourism jobs have a multiplier effect, and the UNWTO has found that one job in the core tourism sector creates about one-and-a-half additional or indirect jobs in the tourism-related economy.
Recent job numbers in the U.S. bear out this fact. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, travel-related jobs added 12,200 positions in June, affirming travel as one of the strongest growth sectors in the country, and the U.S. Travel Association found that travel employment increased for the 10th time in the past 12 months in June.
As more and more people turn to the tourism industry to find work and a modern culture driven by convenience takes hold in more corners of the globe, it’s not surprising to find that travel agents play a key role in the growing workforce.
More and more people are seeing the value travel agents can provide as advocates and as experts. They are truly the eyes, ears and faces of the tourism industry.
ASTA’s recent “How America Travels” survey found that 42 percent of respondents said expert and insider information on destinations was a main reason why they contacted a travel advisor.
And travel agents are happy and optimistic about their jobs in the industry.
travallianceMedia (the parent company of TravelPulse) recently published its Annual Home-Based Agent Survey and the research found that home-based advisors are optimistic and happy with their career choices. They like setting their own hours and enjoy making their clients’ dream vacations a reality.
Travel agents are also seeing an uptick in the need for their services.
Eighty-two percent of home-based travel advisors said they expect sales to grow next year–the highest number in at least five years—when they were asked: “Do you expect your sales in 2020 will be up, down or the same as 2019?”
Overall, home-based travel agents, in particular, are satisfied with their tourism careers.
When asked, “Do you feel happy, satisfied and professionally fulfilled working as a home-based travel agent?” more than 80 percent of respondents to the survey said that they are “extremely satisfied” or “satisfied.”
To those who say that the age of the travel agent is dead and gone, they should look to the numbers, which tell a different story.
According to the Portrait of the American Traveler in 2017, the average travel agent user was age 39. They make nearly $150,000 annually, 84 percent are married, 74 percent have children and they take more than 6 vacations per year, spending over $8,000.
As client lists grow, so do revenues. Travel agents have been steadily earning more money since 2010 with revenues projected to increase through 2020 earning the average travel agency more than $160,000, according to Statista–US Census Bureau research.
However, what really makes travel agents the face of the travel industry is their sway over where clients go, how they go and what they do when they get there.
As more and more people look toward the expert advice of travel agents, their power to influence the market increases.
According to Conde Nast Traveler, they are the “experience makers.” Vogue has declared travel agents “travel designers” and NerdWallet noted that travel agents “have access to information unavailable to you to get better deals.”
So as the UNWTO promotes the benefits tourism jobs have on a changing economy and highlights the ways in which the industry can maximize the potential of the tourism sector to create more and better jobs for a diverse group of people, consider if becoming a travel agent or turning to one to plan your next vacation is the right thing for you.