International Labour Organisation (ILO) says over the past decades, tourism has become a major source of growth and employment around the world and a key driver of poverty reduction.
These trends are expected to accelerate during the next decade, according to the latest ILO data, published in a working paper titled: “International Perspectives on Women and Work in Hotels, Catering and Tourism (HCT).”
The document which was made available by the ILO to Ghana News Agency on Wednesday said the HCT sector accounted for more than 260 million jobs worldwide, that is about one in 12 jobs, which together contributed to about nine per cent of global Gross Domestic Products.
“Tourism also serves as a first entry point to the world of work, especially for women, youth, migrant workers and rural populations in developing and least developed countries (LDCs).
“In fact, tourism represents 33 per cent of LDC exports and 65 per cent of island LDCs,” it said.
It noted that women made up between 60 to 70 per cent of all workers in the industry; however, their situation is far from ideal as they earn less than men and fewer of them occupy managerial posts.
It said women are also disproportionately represented in lower skills and lower paid jobs, notably housekeeping and some customer contact areas.
It said men are usually employed as bartenders, porters, gardeners and maintenance, and earn more for work of equal value.
According to the document, informal work is quite common in the sector, especially for female workers.
In addition, many tourism companies are small and family enterprises, so the line separating women´s paid and unpaid work is often unclear.
It said women may contribute to income-generating activities, but they may not receive appropriate remuneration for their work.
“Given the pace of demographic, economic and technological change in many countries and regions, an HCT workforce in which women are represented at all levels should be a major feature over the next decade in most parts of the world.
“Tourism has an inter-sectoral link with other areas of the economy. When tourism begins to take off in certain regions, many other sectors such as utilities and services, construction, agriculture, transport, entertainment and handicrafts also start to grow,” the ILO working paper observed.
It said being a labour intensive service industry; tourism had the potential to contribute to poverty alleviation through local sourcing and by developing value chains and integrated approaches to sustainable tourism development.
“The ILO is working with its tripartite constituents to improve working conditions in the sector so as to have an impact on its image and service quality, which is highly dependent on the skills level, professionalism, commitment, loyalty and competencies of its workers.
“Therefore, it is essential to strengthen social dialogue mechanisms that will favour the respect of labour rights, the improvement of working conditions and the ability of companies to better respond to the needs and demands of the labour market,” it said.