Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all

Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all

World Tourism Day (WTD) is an international event commemorated annually on September 27, with celebrations led by United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) which is headquartered in Madrid, Spain.

World Tourism Day (WTD) is an international event commemorated annually on September 27, with celebrations led by United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) which is headquartered in Madrid, Spain.

The WTD's purpose is to sensitise among the global community of its social, cultural, political and economic value. Compared with the other sectors, tourism also contributes towards realising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which is a collection of seventeen global goals set by the United Nations General Assembly in 2015, for the year 2030.

Presently, in line with UNWTO's main focus on skills, education and jobs throughout the year, WTD 2019 is celebrated on the topic "Tourism and Jobs: A Better Future for All".

This year, New Delhi will host the WTD celebrations scheduled between 26 – 28 September and the main highlights are two parallel sessions on "Tourism Jobs of the Future" and "Maximising Tourism's Potential to Create More and Better Jobs", where the experts from international and national organisations / companies will share their views.

Tourism, as a sector or industry, is usually undervalued, especially in addressing the unemployment problems. As per the facts published by UNWTO's report in 2017 titled, "Tourism and the Sustainable Development Goals – Journey to 2030", tourism representing 10% of world GDP, 1 in 10 jobs and 7% of global exports, it has a decisive role to play in the achievement of the 2030 Agenda under eight SDGs which is "Decent Work and Economic Growth", for its immense potential to create jobs.

Being of its labour-intensive nature, tourism is a major contributor in generating the employment which has a significant multiplier effect even on its related sectors.

The global Travel and Tourism sector grew at 3.9% (Travel and Tourism's 3.9% versus 3.2% of global GDP) to contribute a record $8.8 trillion and 319 million jobs to the world economy in 2018, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)'s 2018 Economic Impact Report.

Even this sector is largely untouched from global economic crisis and the number of worldwide international tourist arrivals on an average grew at 4% or above from the last few years.

But now, there is a need to devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism taking care of climate change impact vis-à-vis creates jobs and promotes an indigenous culture and products. Its role in employment generation and entrepreneurship is often underestimated in policy formulation and implementation.

And this sector is also suffering "to attract and retain human resource talent" due to the casual approach towards creating the working environment.

Surprisingly, market uncertainties like the collapse of an oldest travel firm Thomas Cook noted on September 23, 2019 is another hindrance to attract and retain human resource talent.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) released data in 2018 in which the global unemployment has reached more than 190 million, which is on the higher side and needs immediate attention of the global community.

Therefore, there is a need to create the conditions for more and better jobs. In this scenario, embracing new technology could play a key role in achieving the goal of better job creation.

Tourism being primarily a topmost people-to-people sector, with an impressive growth rate, can also serve as a natural ally of ILO's human-centred agenda for the future of work. In spite of this general notion that mostly women faced an exclusion in terms of access to education and training, they play a significant role in tourism entrepreneurship.

At working places in the tourism industry, one of the prominent deterrents faced by the women is a large gender pay gap, where they are on an average paid a quarter less than male workers even acquiring the comparable skills.

India's first National Tourism Policy was formulated in 1982 and the National Tourism Policy 2002 was formulated with the objective of positioning tourism as a major contributor of economic growth while ensuring that environmental sustainability is maintained.

Then, to cope up the widespread, interrelated global developments and advancements in the tourism sector, a new draft National Tourism Policy was formulated in 2015 with a vision to develop and position India as a "Must Experience" and "Must Revisit" destination for global travellers.

Recently on August 15, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also encouraged Indians to explore their own country by visiting fifteen domestic tourist destinations by 2022.

Globally, India has improved its Travel and Tourism Competitiveness (TTC) Index and holds the 34th Rank out of 140 world economies, according to a TTC biennial report published by World Economic Forum.

With a new Union Tourism Minister, the expectation of the National Tourism Policy will soon become out and guides the way to achieve the newer milestones.

Although tourism is creating jobs, more push is needed by framing new policies to utilise its true potential to create more and better jobs, especially for women and youth. And also keep ongoing advances in global technology.

The need of the time is to develop a holistic approach in synchronisation with all the stakeholders from public and private sectors, so that a gap between tourism skills that tourism employers' need and that are taught in educational institutions.

Specifically, for skills development required to create future work opportunities, digital revolution and artificial intelligence should also include in educational curriculums.

Even by supporting opportunities for industrial experiences like internships or scholarships, along with specialised education and training, will also contribute towards creating the future workforce in the tourism sector.

Time has already arrived to embrace tourism and recognise its untapped potential as a key sector for creating multiple and remarkable job creations which leads to provide better career building possibilities.

By focussing on job creations, Tourism also puts its step forward by keeping in control the global greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprints along with its futuristic expansion.

(The author is Assistant Professor, Indian Institute of Tourism and Travel Management (IITTM), an autonomous body under Ministry of Tourism, Govt. of India, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh)

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