Tourism is an integral part of the world economy and its role in the global economic activity will only grow in the future. According to UNWTO, more than 1.4 billion people travelled in 2018 generating a staggering US$ 1.4 trillion in international tourism receipts. The employment opportunity the sector is generating is equally impressive. One in every 10 jobs are in the travel and tourism sector, and if we look at the employment opportunities created worldwide in the last five years, one in five jobs have been created in the tourism sector. By 2028, this is further expected to increase to a quarter of all jobs coming from the travel and tourism sector. With the world tourism body UNWTO announcing India to be the host country for this year’s official celebration of World Tourism Day (WTD) on September 27 themed “Tourism and Jobs: A Better Future for All”, it could not have been more fitting as job creation is something on top of the governments’ agenda in every country. And not only does it create employment but also stimulates new investments in different sectors, creates revenues which leads to taxes and more. The SATTE 2019 brought together an international panel of tourism veterans to discuss the theme. The session was moderated by Ashish Gupta, Consulting CEO, Federation of Associations of Indian Tourism and Hospitality (FAITH) and panelists were VK Duggal, Former Governor of Manipur and Mizoram; YB Tuan Muhammad Bakhtiar bin Wan Chik, Deputy Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Malaysia; Eunji Tae, Officer, Regional Department for Asia and the Pacific, UNWTO and Subhash Goyal, Member, National Tourism Advisory Committee. While laying the ground rules and asking the panelist to share their experiences and understanding of the co-relation between tourism and employment, Gupta asked the panelist to specifically focused on three things, that were, how can countries learn from other role models of increasing the indirect employment footprint around tourism? How can countries develop policies which ensure that tourism employment develop more product and becomes ingrained in the mainstream economy? And third, with so much of technology in terms of automation, self-drive and self-service, is that a threat to employment or can that be leveraged better?
For somebody who has closely watched the tourism sector in India grow and has spearheaded government’s drive to develop the sector in India, Duggal, while sharing his understanding of the sector, said, “Tourism is an all-encompassing activity. It touches the life of people across the board. As economies grow, as the spirit of travel grow, and which is growing continuously, in every field, be it technology, manufacturing or transport industry, tourism will continue to create new job opportunities like nobody’s business, especially in a country like India. Already probably tourism is the largest employer as far as women and youth are concerned.” Tourism is an integral part of Malaysia’s economy contributing more than 14 per cent in GDP. Replying on his governments approach towards tourism’s role in employment and GDP contribution, Bakhtiar said, “One out of four people working in Malaysia are working in the travel tourism sector and altogether 3.4 million people are working in tourism. So, it is key to us to sustain this number. We are also getting stiff competition from neighbouring countries like Thailand, Vietnam and others because we are in the same neighbourhood. It is also important for us to come up with new products and promotion to sustain the number of tourists and hence the number of employment.”
Industry veteran Goyal added, “Tourism is one industry that’s creating millions of jobs. It’s a labour intensive sector and therefore very important for a country like India. And that’s why India has set a target to double the inbound arrival from 10 to 20 million in three years.
There is huge opportunity to channel tourism in creating rural employment, something all countries struggle with, “In case of Malaysia, the country is more about rural and community based tourism with products like clusters of eco-tourism divisions spread all over the country which are mainly catered by self-employed entrepreneurs running home-stays etc. in these rural areas and therefore not only help in creating rural employment, entrepreneurship and women empowerment but also help in mitigating migration to urban centers. Bakhtiar also pointed that tourism is not only one of the primary reasons of conservation and preservation efforts towards cultural heritage and monuments but also creates reasons for local crafts and artisans to revive and thrive and not to forget creating new employment opportunities for women and less privileged and semi-skilled. An estimated seven million new jobs was created worldwide in the sector last year alone and close to 313 million jobs is related directly or indirectly to tourism. By 2028, Travel & Tourism is expected to support more than 400 million jobs globally. Most of the new jobs will come from some of the fastest developing tourism source markets like India and China, among others. “By 2030, India is going to be the second largest economy in the world. With that comes the ambition or the desire to travel, not just within the country but all over the world. As the Indian economy grows, the bigger beneficiary will be the short and medium haul destinations like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, etc. driven by the spirit of adventure to try out niche activities like Golf and sports, and not just for weddings. And this in turn will continue to benefit new employment and job creations,” said Duggal. Highlighting the role of some of the fastest growing tourism source markets like India, Goyal said, “More than 25 million Indians are travelling all over the world and are spending. They are the number one shoppers in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Switzerland and London. These people are travelling in large numbers and with families and are spending a lot of money while travelling and shopping and are helping create lots of jobs in these places they are visiting. Even segments like Indian Wedding market that is more than just a few billion dollars, is going to destinations like Dubai, Spain, Malaysia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, France and elsewhere like Macao, and are contributing tremendously to the job creation and socio-economic upliftment in these destinations.”