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Outlook for jobs in travel and tourism
Outlook for jobs in travel and tourism
Photo: freepik

The travel and tourism industries are big business in the United States. In 2017, the U.S. travel industry alone generated $2.4 trillion and supported 15.6 million American jobs, according to the U.S. Travel Association.

Our thriving economy is without a doubt the main factor driving success in these industries. As the unemployment rate continues to fall, not only will the gainfully employed spend more on leisure and hospitality services, but business travel is expected to grow by 6 percent in 2018, according to a study by the consulting and advisory firm Deloitte.

The broad implications are clear: Growing demand for travel and tourism services will lead to job growth in both sectors. But an analysis of where the industries’ opportunities are located reveals a divide that can be explained by today’s tech-dominated economic landscape.

Using the ZipRecruiter Opportunity Index, which compares the current number of open jobs to the number of job seekers, we identified the top locations to find opportunities within the travel and tourism industries, respectively.

Travel jobs

We found that the best employment opportunities in the travel industry, which is dominated by jobs in aviation, are concentrated in large metropolitan areas that are known for being tech hubs.

One might think that travel and tourism are inextricably linked and expect to see some correlation in job opportunity between the two. We clearly see that with Austin, but it was the only city to rank in the top five for opportunity in both industries. Plus, the level of opportunity for travel jobs in Austin is much higher than it is for tourism jobs.

It’s well documented at this point that Austin and Denver are rapidly becoming major tech hubs. These cities appear alongside San Francisco and Seattle in our travel ranking, suggesting that a great deal of the demand for travel industry jobs could be stemming from business travel between the hubs.

Tourism jobs

Unlike the top destinations for travel jobs, the greatest opportunity for tourism employment is found in rural areas and mid-sized cities. In these areas, big business is not as prevalent, and these metros tend to rely more on revenue generated from tourism than their urban counterparts.

Job seekers have a couple of advantages when looking for a job in a metro in our tourism ranking. Rural and mid-size cities that are less dense don’t enjoy the same labor supply as larger cities, which means job seekers have more leverage to demand higher wages. In addition to greater negotiating power, taking a job in one of these locations typically means a lower cost of living.

Anyone looking to build their career in tourism should consider looking outside of the major vacation destinations, where competition for jobs is just as high as the cost of living.


At a glance

Top Metros for Travel Industry

Jobs                                     Opportunity Index

Austin, TX                                         8.3

San Jose, CA                                      1.0

San Francisco, CA                             0.6

Denver, CO                                         0.4

Seattle, WA                                         0.4


Top Areas for Tourism Industry

Jobs                                        Opportunity Index

Rural New York                                   8.3

Rural Michigan                                    5.8

Austin, TX                                             1.1

Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN-WI          1.1

Pittsburgh, PA                                      0.9

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