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Overview of the hospitality, tourism and sport sector in the UK

Overview of the hospitality, tourism and sport sector in the UK

The hospitality, tourism and sport sector employs over two million people in the UK, across more than 220,000 different sized organisations

What areas of hospitality, tourism and sport can I work in?

Employment opportunities in the hospitality, tourism and sport sector can be categorised into:

  • Accommodation - 16% of those in the sector work in hotels, hostels, bread and breakfasts (B&Bs) and self-contained apartments;
  • Betting and gambling - 4% work in casinos or betting shops;
  • Food and beverage services - The majority of people in the sector work in bars, pubs, inns, cafés and restaurants;
  • Sports and active leisure - 20% of employees work in the likes of gyms, golf courses, football clubs and theme parks;
  • Travel and tourism - 6% of the sector's workforce are in the travel agent or tour operator industries.

This sector is expected to grow significantly over the next couple of years, with a rise in demand predicted particularly for high level, skilled positions.

For examples of job roles in this sector, see graduate jobs in hospitality, tourism and sport.

Who are the main graduate employers?

The vast majority of organisations in hospitality, tourism and sport employ fewer than 50 people, meaning there aren't many large employers in the industry.

Where there are large organisations operating in this sector, they are mainly in the accommodation and sport and active leisure areas.

Examples of big companies operating in the industry include:

  • Accommodation: Marriott, Travelodge, Premier Inn, Best Western
  • Sport and active leisure: Parkwood Leisure, Bannatyne, UK Sport
  • Food and Beverage: JD Wetherspoon, Nando's, Mitchells & Butlers
  • Travel and tourism: Thomson, Expedia UK, Thomas Cook

What's it like working in the sector?

Graduates entering the hospitality, tourism and sport sector can expect:

  • a relatively low salary - the sector has the lowest mean hourly earnings of all the sectors. However, this is largely a result of the low average hourly pay in the food and beverage area bringing down the figures. Other areas pay considerably better. In travel and tourism and sport and active leisure, for example, employees earn an average of £13 and £14 an hour respectively;
  • a customer-facing working environment - many roles are busy and fast-paced, particularly at peak times, and require a lot of interaction with consumers;
  • to start on part-time hours - 44% of the workforce is employed on a part-time basis, although there is scope for full-time hours in a range of positions.

What are the key issues in the hospitality sector?

Because of its reliance on consumer spending, this sector was affected by the closure of organisations during the recession.

Pubs, bars and nightclubs have been impacted the most during the economic downturn, but the majority of the issues actually arose before the recession, including the smoking ban, increases in 'beer tax' and competition from supermarkets.

The number of restaurants in the UK has fallen too, however the number of staff employed in this area has increased. This suggests the organisations that went out of business were small, while the larger chains have been expanding.

Written by Editor, Graduate Prospects
November 2012

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