When you think about yourself working in the tourism sector, what images come into your mind? Where do we get our expectations? Everywhere we turn, we see images of the tourism sector. TV, movies, radio, books – all of these show people working in hotels, in restaurants, in cabs, in airplanes, on cruise ships and more. Sometimes these pictures are realistic; often they aren’t. Real or not, they influence our expectations about what it would be like to work in the sector.

Most of us have eaten in restaurants, taken buses or experienced the services of other tourism businesses. We may think we know what it would be like to work in these places. Unless we’re there all day and behind the scenes, though, we cannot know what it’s really like.

How realistic are your expectations? Answer the questions and find out.

This questionnaire contains 15 questions and may take about 10 minutes to complete.


Instructions

You will be presented with a series of statements about the tourism sector. Select Yes if you agree with the statement and No if you disagree.

Fill out this questionnaire as openly and as honestly as you can. Remember, you want to get a realistic picture of yourself. Nobody has to see this except you.

Entry-level wages in the tourism sector tend to be low compared to other industries.

Yes. Many tourism jobs start off at minimum wage. This varies, however, depending on the job, region and type of operation. As you look through information under different sectors, you will see that wages increase as you reach higher levels. Remember, many minimum wage jobs can be supplemented with tips. If your service is good, your earnings can be higher.

Over the next ten years there will be a lot of job opportunities in the tourism sector.

Yes. Tourism is the world's fastest growing sector. Employers are worried that they may not be able to find enough employees to fill all their positions. It is a growth field that will continue to offer great opportunities.

It is hard to build a whole career in the tourism sector.

No, this isn't true. Again, some people have heard that tourism jobs are only temporary jobs for students or people who haven't figured out what they want to do with their futures. They can be - but they certainly don't have to be. The tourism sector offers more chances for rapid career advancement than most other industries. As you will see later, there are lots of paths you can take to build yourself a long, satisfying career in tourism.

New immigrants who come to Canada and work in the tourism sector have great opportunities to practice their English and French.

Yes, learning English is considered one of the main challenges facing many immigrants upon their arrival in Canada. New immigrants respect employers who will be patient with them in their efforts to learn the new language. For this reason, a sector which offers the opportunity of employment and an environment in which to cultivate the English and French language is very appealing.

The tourism sector is a good place to work part-time until you finish school.

Yes, a lot of people do work part-time in the sector to make money while they are in school. A lot of students work in restaurants or in hotels catering, for instance. With evening and weekend shifts, they are able to work around their school schedules. It is important to remember, though, that tourism jobs are not just a temporary way to make money until you graduate or get another job. This part-time work experience can help you gain experience towards a career in tourism.

There are a lot of high level jobs in the tourism sector.

Yes, there are. Tourism is an sector where most people gain some experience at an entry level and work their way up. There are, however, a broad range of supervisory and management jobs available.

Most people in the tourism sector work a regular eight hour day.

No. If there is one thing people agree on, it is the fact that tourism work is rarely a 9-5 activity. Long hours can be expected in almost all areas of the sector. Some people find themselves working ten to twelve hour days. Managers often work six days a week. Tourism jobs rely on shift-work. You may work some mornings, some evenings, maybe even some nights. Some weekend work is usually required. You may be working on holidays like summer and Christmas, when other people are off. There are advantages to irregular hours. People with weekdays off can pursue hobbies and sports with relatively few crowds when others are working. Overall, however, tourism requires dedication and commitment to long hours.

You need a college or university degree to enter the tourism sector.

No. Most entry-level jobs do not require a degree. Tourism offers more opportunities than many industries to people who do not have a post-secondary education. However, as you will read below, tourism training and education is important to grow and move up in the sector.

You get to talk to a lot of interesting people from different places when you work in the tourism sector.

Yes. Most employees in the tourism sector meet groups of diverse people from different cities and countries. This may be face-to-face; this may be over the phone. Some people hope that they will meet a lot of celebrities or other powerful people. Though this may happen occasionally, most people you meet will be ordinary citizens.

Most tourism jobs become routine and predictable after awhile.

No, not usually. Though the specific tasks of your job may become easier over time, there is one element of most tourism jobs that will never be totally predictable: people. Tourism is a very people-oriented business. You will likely be in constant interaction with other employees or customers. People can always surprise you - with their comments, their complaints and their reactions. This can be stressful, but it is rarely boring.

Taking tourism-related courses will help you move up to higher level tourism jobs.

Yes. Even though they are not usually an initial requirement, employers will always be impressed to see someone who has taken or is taking tourism courses. This shows you are serious about the industry. Once hired, it is important to keep taking as much tourism training and course work as you can. Some employers will provide this training at work or pay for you to take course elsewhere. If they don't, try to do course work on your own. This will make you more skilled and more attractive when you apply for new jobs in or outside your company.

You can expect to be given a management job once you graduate from a college program in tourism management.

No. Industry leaders become frustrated with people who think they can, with no on-the-job experience, step into a management job just because they have a degree. With a degree you should be able to move up faster and further. Nevertheless, as so many say, you have to be willing to "pay your dues".

People with tourism experience can apply their skills to jobs around the world.

Yes. When you develop tourism skills they can be applied to international jobs. Many people cherish the opportunity to live and learn in a new culture. Though you have to learn new things - like the geography of the place you are going to - your core tourism skills will apply. Your opportunity for international jobs will obviously increase if you speak one or more foreign languages.

The tourism sector provides flexible positions with limited personal responsibility for pre-retirees.

Yes, many older workers have played key roles in their areas of employment (owning their own company, part of a management team, being responsible for a store or product). While they still wish to maintain their independence, they no longer seek to hold the main responsibility for maintaining/growing/managing a business. They would prefer to play a supporting role where they do not have to take on the responsibilities of managing or running a business (e.g. long work hours, anxiety, and sense of responsibility).

Most people in the tourism sector find their work glamorous.

No. A lot of people come into the sector expecting a world of glamorous people, plush surroundings and constant brushes with fame. After all, it happens on TV! Unfortunately, they are disappointed to find that they are not living in a world of glitz and glamour. They are often working behind the scenes. They are usually too busy to luxuriate in their elegant surroundings. Tourism work is exciting, dynamic, variable, challenging. It is not, however, glamorous.

Employers in the tourism sector are welcoming and accepting to people with disabilities.

Yes, it is critical to all disabled people, regardless of their disability to know that the tourism sector (and prospective employers) are ready, willing and able to accommodate the special needs and requirements of disabled people.