Tourism can be a significant source of employment for a vast section of the population. It offers both direct employment within tourism businesses (e.g. hotels) and indirect employment in enterprises that benefit from tourism (e.g. general retailing). In comparison with many modern industries, tourism retains a relatively high demand for labor based particularly round the clock service work in hotels, restaurants, bars, retailing and local transportation. Smaller amount of work in the travel industry is also generated within the travel agencies, as couriers and guides, or in the tourism information services. These smaller numbers still exercise managerial roles within the industry.
The structure of tourism employment has been usefully summarized by the economists. Normally, tourism related labor markets are centered on a relatively small core group of permanent skilled managers and workers that form a primary labor source that is capable of undertaking a range of tasks that are functionally flexible. Alongside the core are much larger secondary and tertiary groups that are more likely to be composed of relatively low-skilled personnel with more limited capabilities (i.e. those that are functionally inflexible), but probably working part-time and therefore in sectors that are numerically flexible in their size and composition.
Flexibility in the secondary labor market typically extends to the import of labor, and hence employment migration is often a distinctive geographic dimension in tourism economics. These structural characteristics are important since it means that major elements in the tourism labor force may be formed relatively quickly, with only modest levels of training and, that which equally adjusts to reflect the fluctuations in the market. From the perspective of developers and employers, these represent considerable advantages.