Tourism and travel

Hospitality, sport, leisure and tourism careers for graduates: tourism and travel.

The tourism industry in Ireland is about encouraging global ‘tourists’ to come to the island of Ireland and spend their time and money sampling Irish products and services. It is also about making Ireland attractive to Irish holiday makers.

What does the job involve?

The overall tourism industry incorporates accommodation, leisure activities, food and drink providers, tourism service providers, events and conferencing facilities, tourist attractions and the transport and travel trade.

The travel industry specifically deals with the actual logistics of transporting clients/customers from one destination to another and the promotion of these services.

Areas of work in the travel industry include travel agencies/consultancies, tour operators, individual/group handling agencies and destination management companies (DMCs). Many general tourism roles could also be available to graduates of travel industry programmes.

Some examples of graduate jobs in the tourism and travel industry are:

  • Travel consultant
  • Tourism officer
  • Reservations agent
  • Tour guide
  • Tourist Information Centre manager
  • Tour operator
  • Operations manager
  • Cabin crew
  • Heritage officer.

Business support roles, such as HR, finance and IT, are also available in all areas of the tourism and travel industry.

Getting a foot in the door

The tourism industry is particularly tough to get into due to a high demand for jobs, a low rate of staff turnover and internal promotion policies within organisations such as Fáilte Ireland, Tourism Ireland and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board. You may have to start at the bottom and work your way up. Getting an internship with one of these organisations during college can be a great way of making contacts and getting access to these roles.

Outside of these bodies you should keep an eye out for positions with tourism information centres, regional tourism bodies, local authorities, travel companies and tour operators, travel/transport authorities and providers, interpretive centres, heritage sites.

Specialist tourism areas such as ecotourism, sustainable tourism, food and drink tourism, agri-tourism and adventure tourism have also grown in recent times.

Cruise line companies are also well worth considering as this is one of the few areas of this tourism/hospitality sector which has shown significant growth in recent years.

Qualifications and skills

To get a job in the tourism and travel sector you will typically need a third-level qualification or training, often to degree level. Entry to the travel industry may require a related third-level qualification and, particularly in the case of tour operating, related work experience. In-house training is also common in the travel sector. Graduate management training programmes are less common in this area so you are more likely to be looking for specific jobs.

Jobs within the tourism and travel sector tend to be a mix between front-line client services roles and behind-the-scenes support positions. This means you will be expected to have strong people skills and the ability to present information to clients in a friendly manner. Other key skills include:

  • A passion for marketing and promotion
  • A good knowledge of the ‘tourism product’ and the travel business
  • Commercial awareness
  • Language skills: desirable and in some cases a requirement for many roles within the travel and tourism industry.

Doing postgraduate study in marketing or tourism studies can help you progress in a tourism career.


Salary levels for graduates entering tourism positions tend to be around the high teens or low €20,000s. Graduate salaries in the travel industry can range from €20,000-€30,000 for travel agents/consultants/advisors and tour operators, while cabin crew can earn €15,000-€25,000. Senior management/supervisory salaries can range from €30,000-€45,000.