Tourism is about the the experiences people have and the activities they participate in, when they travel.
The tourism industry includes everything from business travel, to holidays, or even visiting relatives. Companies involved in tourism can be small and large private businesses, government agencies or non-profit organisations.
The tourism industry serves people in a wide variety ways. Its main aim is to ensure that everyone has the best possible experience.
Tourism is Ireland's biggest indigenous industry. The jobs in tourism encompass a wide range of roles, qualifications and skills, and are spread geographically all around the country.
Tourism can be divided into several main areas. Each provides different services and a variety of job opportunities:
The Travel Trade
- This part of the tourism industry has to do with selling travel. Travel agents and tour operators are involved in promoting the idea of travel. Much of the buying and selling of travel and trips happens online now, although there are still many high-street agents such as Trailfinders, or Abbey Travel. Travellers can buy entire holiday or business packages that include transport, accommodation, meals, and various activities and entertainment. Jobs in this area include roles for Travel professionals; Travel Advisor/Consultant; Travel Representatives.Travel Transport and Operation
- People travel by road, rail, air, and sea. This aspect of the tourism industry includes Tour Operators, Airlines, Bus and Coach companies; There are job roles for Pilots; Ground handling staff; Cabin crew; Drivers; Tour Guides; Accommodation managers and assistants; Customer service and car rental agents; and Taxi drivers. Cultural Tourism /Tourist Attractions -
Museums, Galleries; Heritage Centres - Special attractions are an important part of the tourism industry. Attractions include: museums, historical sites, parks and cultural tourism. Job roles include Tour Guides and Leaders. People who work in this area may even specialise in areas such as environmental and cultural interpretation.
- besides business travel or necessary travel, people travel in order to have great experiences. Tourists come to Ireland to go fishing on the Shannon, or windsurfing in Sligo, or hiking on the Wicklow Way. They travel to see natural attractions and to explore. People who work in adventure tourism include Tour operators; Tour guides; Outdoor adventure instructors and park wardens.
Events and Conferences
- Special events are a significant part of tourism in Ireland. Concerts, festivals, conferences, trade shows, and exhibitions are all part of special events. Think of the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the number of tourists it brings to Ireland each year. People who work in this area plan, co-ordinate, organise, advertise and deliver events to the public.Tourism Services
are the supports provided in the industry - Tourist offices; information services; tourist shops. There are numerous job roles associated, from researchers to information advisors and advertising, marketing and PR professionals.
|Accommodation and Food are also significant areas of Tourism - These are covered in our Hospitality area.
Career opportunities exist in the Tourism Sector, both in Ireland and overseas, for young people at all levels from office administration roles to junior and senior management posts. Many jobs are outdoors. Work in the tourism industry can involve travel or being away from home for extended periods of time. Some jobs are seasonal. The high season can be very busy and is often very demanding. Seasonal employment can also lead to a high turnover rate, so it can be easy to change jobs within the different areas of the tourism industry if you like that kind of flexibility.
People who work in the tourism industry are treated well and may even receive discounts from other companies when they travel. Working conditions in the tourism industry are as varied as the jobs themselves. People on the frontline tend to work shift work and spend a great deal of time on their feet.
Small business owners and tour operators have no set hours; they have to be prepared to work seven days a week. You must enjoy working with people as most jobs in tourism involve serving the public directly. Staff may receive tips (gratuities) for their services, and motivated and energetic people can make a good living in the tourism industry. Fungi the dolphin has been a major tourist attraction in Kerry, in the South West of the country.
As well as being the National Tourism Development Authority in Ireland, Fáilte Ireland also has responsibility to encourage, promote and support the recruitment, training and education of people for the tourism industry.
Fáilte Ireland works in partnership with Tourism Ireland (who promote Ireland as a holiday destination to overseas markets) and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (responsible for tourism development and marketing in Northern Ireland). They lead an extensive domestic holiday campaign via Discover Ireland, which features comprehensive information and listings for Irish accommodation, activities, events, tourist attractions and Irish holiday special offers.
Fáilte Ireland priorities include:
- New initiatives such as ‘The Wild Atlantic Way’ and ‘Dublin Plus’, and also a new proposition for the east and south of the country
- Business tourism and major events
- Home holidays
- The Gathering legacy
- Festivals and events
- Sales, digital and experience development.
[Check out the 'Ask the Experts' panel on this page for an overview of the sector from Fáilte Ireland]
Given the potential for interesting and rewarding careers in these sectors, many young people are looking for suitable courses that will help prepare them for careers at different levels. Because of the competitive nature of these careers, staff with industry related qualifications tend to get the better jobs.
Getting into Tourism
Entry level jobs provide basic services and deal face-to-face with customers. Many of these jobs do not require previous experience or advanced training. Good interpersonal skills and a positive service attitude are the primary requirements.
- Customer Service Agent - Answers questions, handles complaints, processes payments, and provides general information.
- Ticket Agent - Quotes fares and rates for holidays/events; takes bookings/reservations, issues tickets.
- Outdoor Activities Guide /Leader - Runs outdoor and sporting activities such as boating, fishing trips, hunting, mountaineering; hillwalking kayaking etc.
- Tour Guide - Leads or transports passengers, individuals or groups on local and daily tours, arranges itineraries, provides commentary on points of interest and creates positive experiences for tourists and visitors.
- Tourism/Visitor information provider - Provides information on accommodation, restaurants, tours, local attractions and other seasonal activities or interest.
Education and Training
The Irish higher education system has a well developed range of courses. Typical titles include:
- Tourism Management
- Tourism Marketing
- Travel and Tourism
The range of courses available spans all levels from Further Education (FE / QQI) courses at Level 4-5 through to Level 6 and 7 courses with both FE Colleges and the Institutes of Technology and Level 8 Degree programmes in Hospitality Management.
A degree Hospitality Management will help you to gain practical knowledge of the industry. Topics such as accounting, business, customer service, hospitality law, marketing, hotel reservations systems and tourism geography are covered, to prepare you for most of the most popular job roles across the tourism and hospitality industry.
Most undergraduate degree programmes will include a period of work experience, varying in length from six months to one year. This work experience is seen to be a central part of courses, where the student obtains the opportunity to practice what they have learned in college or university. Employers also see great value in this work experience when considering the employment of graduates.
Given the international nature of these industries, another valuable part of any course is the study of languages. Most courses in hospitality and tourism provide access to language courses, either as core components or as options.
Joint degrees make it possible to study combinations of subjects, such as Tourism and Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure, Hospitality and Marketing. The international nature of the industry means that the study of languages is a valuable part of any course. Most courses in hospitality and tourism include language courses, either as core components or as options.
In addition to the above courses, there are also more specialised courses in Tourism covering areas such as Cultural Tourism, Tourism Marketing, Tourism Planning, Museum Management, Heritage Management, Cultural Tourism and Sustainable Tourism: these are suitable for people who have an interest in employment in a specific sector of the industry.
Skills training and work based training is available throughout Ireland for those who want to enter the sector more immediately, or want to complete their training whilst employed.
- With a qualification in Tourism and Hospitality Management, jobs and managerial positions overseeing operations in various aspects of the industry are possible - reservations, maintenance, and more.
- The multi-billion dollar cruise industry has abundant opportunities in entertainment, recreation, food, leisure and many othyers.
- Hotels and resorts offer abundant career opportunities in the accommodation aspect of tourism. You could hold the role of Accommodation Manager or General Manager, overseeing the overall functioning and administration of a hotel business.