2017: Towards equal tourism participation and inclusive working environments: access, security and wellbeing  >  Tourism as work: Exploring the worker perspective


Perceived image of tourism as work environment: the paradise of career opportunities or field of exploitation?

Written by: Kivela, Martta

University: Lincoln


This conference paper aims to (1) discuss the key HMR challenges, strategies and practices in tourism work environments and (2) analyse the attractiveness level of the tourism industry. The research methods implemented in the conference paper were secondary research through literature review, primary research using semi-structured interviews and a questioner. Keywords: tourism industry, attractiveness level of the industry, human resources, higher education, employment

Discussion paper:
Importance of human resource management and the level of attractiveness of tourism as working environment: Research perspective of small restaurant entrepreneur and undergraduate university students

The conference paper aims to provide an analysis and discussion about the challenges of tourism industry as a work environment and the attraction level to entry to tourism industry. The literature review identifies the key challenges of human resource management in tourism industry organisations (Evans, 2015) and discusses of the gap between, what skills the tourism industry requires and what the high education degrees offer in their education (Mössenlechner and Zehrer, 2009). Finally, the literature review introduces strategies for tourism organisations, how to overcome the common challenges (Evans, 2015). Theory of literature review aims to support theoretically the results and findings of the interviews and questioner.

The research included one semi structured interview with a restaurant entrepreneur, two semi structured interviews with third year undergraduate tourism students and a questioner implemented to third year tourism students. The aim of the research was to achieve discussion from the entrepreneur point view and from aspect of student. The aim of the interview of the entrepreneur was to achieve understanding of small scale restaurant owner’s perspective of the challenges and importance of HRM. The interviews with two tourism students aimed to achieve understanding about: which kind of perceived image students have of tourism industry as a work environment. The perspective student A and student B differ tremendously. All the interviews were analysed manually and thematically. The questioner aimed to give an understanding of the larger picture, how many students were willing to entre to work in tourism industry and how many wanted to re-educate themselves or work in other industry. The questioner was implemented through online survey. The data was analysed manually.

The literature review recognises people as the most important resource of any organisation, but especially in service based organisations the aspect is highlighted (Evans, 2015, Mössenlechner and Zehrer, 2009). The authors explain that the attention towards HRM challenges (i.e. working conditions, working hours, salary, recruitment difficulties, and high staff turn overs) has been growing because of the global growth of whole tourism industry employment; the challenges have created a perceived unattractive image for tourism industry as a working environment (Baum, Duncan and Scott 2013). The literature review does offer a counter debate, which states that tourism can be seen as attractive working environment especially for young people, because work can be associated with travelling, meeting new people and places (Evans, 2015). The interview of student A supports the theory, where tourism is seen attractive working environment. However, the interview of student B relates to the theory, where tourism is seen unattractive. The questioner of undergraduate third year students shows that 54% wants to work in tourism, 6% wants to do a master’s degree in tourism and 40% don’t want to work in tourism or want to do a other degree in other industry. The research of this conference paper is limited to three short interviews and to 15 collected questioners, because of the time limit and scope of the assignment. The interviews do have limitation of possible interpretation and representation between the participant and the interviewer.

The context can be considered topical due to the growing attention towards the HR in tourism industry from variety of academic authors. The growth of corporate social responsibilities (CRS) increase the consideration of not only environmental and financial performance of the organisation but also social performance of the organisation, where HRM practices and how an organisation takes care of their employees is put under a microscope. Further research could be suggested with larger research of third year undergraduate students; focusing on their willingness to enter the industry after graduation, the gap seen between the knowledge the degree offers and what the industry requires and further comparing the perceived challenges of industry from the entrepreneur aspect and the aspect of graduating students.


Baum. T, Duncan, T and Scott. G (2013) The motilities of hospitality work: An exploration of issues and debates. Annals of tourism research, 41 (1): 1-19

Evans, N. (2015). Strategic Management for Tourism, Hospitality and Events. 1st ed. Florence: Taylor and Francis.

Mössenlechner, C and Zehrer.A (2009) Key Competencies of Tourism Graduates:The Employers’ Point of View. Travel & Tourism. Taylor & Francis Group, 9 (3), 266–287.