Tourism supports around 100 million jobs and brings in around $2.1 trillion each year across the world. Of course, tourism also creates many jobs indirectly. Think about the advertising agency that does business with the travel industry, the bank that loans money to the hotel group and even the accountant who helps the hotel to keep its books in order. When you move beyond direct employment and economic activity, and account for indirect activity, the numbers quickly grow. All in all, including direct and indirect activity, tourism actually delivers around $6.6 trillion in GDP and jobs to 260 million people.
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Tourism is a particularly important industry because of the types of jobs it supports. For those who are less fortunate in life, who often lack the education to get high-paying jobs, tourism provides a great opportunity to find employment. With great interpersonal skills and a keen understanding of what customers want, many people can have very successful careers in the travel and tourism industry, without necessarily needing a university degree or other advanced qualifications.
Of course, the travel and tourism industry provides a wide range of jobs that are ideal for people with different skills and backgrounds. A hotel manager might be expected to have experience in finance, catering and human resources. In fact, they might even be expected to speak a foreign language, depending on the location of the hotel and the type of tourists they wish to attract.
A tour guide might also be expected to speak one or more foreign languages. Additionally, they will have robust knowledge of the local area. Depending on the country, they might need to be tested by a government body responsible for ensuring their professional qualifications. In Cape Town, a tour guide might know about the wine industry, apartheid and maybe even the animals. In London, tour guides might be expected to know about the current royal family, the history of the monarchy and the effects the world wars had on the city of London and the country more generally. Often their knowledge will be geared toward the things that most interest tourists, and some guides will have particular specializations.
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When we think of philanthropy and charity, we may initially think about people like Lois Pope and The Lois Pope Life Center. But tourism also gives people an opportunity to donate to local causes, organizations and even people. Oftentimes local hotels will form partnerships with charities, groups and schools, and provide an opportunity for their guests to get involved. These types of relationships can be tremendously effective in lifting people out of poverty, and allowing tourists to see firsthand how their money will be put to use.
Tourism helps to build up infrastructure and encourage inward investment. When foreign investors know that a large number of tourists visit a country, they may decide to invest in transportation, hotels, restaurants and shopping centers. These then become an important factor in attracting more tourists to the destination, leading to even more economic growth.