The travel and tourism industry has always been an attractive and exciting career choice for many. Who doesn’t love the chance to make a career around travel? In 2015 alone, the travel industry created 107 million tourism jobs worldwide, and indirectly supported 285 million others. That’s at least 1 in 11 jobs positively impacted by tourism. The tourism industry’s growth, however, has come with consequences like overtourism. This has created demand from travelers and destinations for a more sustainable travel industry. If you’re hoping to work in the tourism industry today, you may want to consider focusing on sustainable tourism.
Tourism is an impactful industry that quite literally affects the world. As tourism continues to grow, it has become clear to many that it needs to grow in a way that is sustainable, and socially responsible. Sustainable tourism ensures that the travel industry has a positive effect instead of a negative one.
What are the 4 pillars of sustainable tourism?
Sustainable ecotourism is made up of four pillars:
1. sustainable management
2. socio-economic impacts
3. cultural heritage impacts
4. environmental impacts
At its best, sustainable tourism should:
- Provide socio-economic benefits and income-earning opportunities to the host communities
- Preserve natural heritage and biodiversity in travel destinations
- Uphold the socio-cultural heritage and values of host communities
- Promote sustainable tourism practices
What is an Example of Sustainable Tourism?
The Gardens by the Bay in Singapore is a magnificent and resplendent example of sustainable tourism. This garden incorporates ecological functions and processes that make it operate like a living system. It features a brilliant approach that helps improve locals' and tourists' lives. For instance, the whole garden is powered by horticultural waste that generates steam for electricity, and the gardens are self-irrigating.
What Does A Sustainable Travel Industry Job Look Like?
One of the economic benefits of sustainable tourism is its ability to create new tourism jobs. As more jobs are created in the travel industry to match the growing number of tourists, It’s important that there is a focus on sustainability. Jobs should be fair-paying, as well as supporting a diverse range of people, particularly the local people of each travel destination.
Sustainable tourism at its best should lift up communities, and create opportunities for locals to capitalize on their own country. Tourism should not be an opportunity for large foreign corporations to exploit a particular place for their own gain.
More travelers than ever are embracing responsible travel and ecotourism. This means that there is a growing need for businesses and tour operators that embody this ethos. As travelers seek out sustainable tours, expert guides in these areas become crucial. Sustainable tourism creates tourism jobs that address the serious issue of visitor management in areas that experience overcrowding. It is responsible for a wide number of newly created professional positions that aim to protect crucial ecosystems and wildlife in parts of the world that become overtraveled due to their stunning environmental settings.
How to Break Into Sustainable Tourism
If you’re hoping to start working in the sustainable tourism industry, then this is an exciting time for you. You may feel a little discouraged however, if you’ve already consulted google and came up with less than stellar results. Like the traveler looking for sustainable travel experiences, it can be a little tricky to find sustainable tourism jobs,, but that's where websites like Hidden Lemur are important. We're here to help you locate the best that's out there!
There are numerous organizations around the world that focus on sustainable, ethical, responsible, or eco-friendly travel. These businesses offer a variety of sustainable tourism jobs to choose from. The travel industry worldwide still has, of course, many jobs that can’t yet be called sustainable, but the industry is evolving. The more travelers who demand sustainable vacations, and the more employees within the industry who advocate in favor of sustainable practices, the more sustainable tourism jobs will become available.
That being said, just like any industry, you’ll need some basic skills and qualifications to work in sustainable tourism. While every specific job has its own requirements, these are some general tips to help you break into the sustainable travel industry:
- Study sustainable tourism- degrees may be required for numerous jobs within the industry. If pursuing a traditional degree isn’t feasible at this point, you can also pursue certifications here and here.
- Start by volunteering for an organization you admire. This is a great way to gain relevant experience and start networking in the field.
- Educate yourself on sustainable tourism and become an advocate for it. By making this a part of your life, you’ll learn about the key players in the industry.
- Evaluate your skills and qualifications — how do they relate to sustainable tourism? What can be utilized or marketed? For example, communication, marketing, management, research and facilitation skills are all valuable when it comes to working in sustainable tourism, as is an environmental background.
- Learn another language! Many sustainable tourism jobs involve working directly with people from countries all over the world. Speaking more than one language is a huge bonus.
- Travel! If you’re planning to work in the tourism industry, then it’s vital that you have experience traveling and living throughout the world. Pay attention to how tourism operates in and affects the places you visit. Reflect on how you can implement what you’ve learned and pitch this knowledge to prospective employers.
Is Ecotourism a Career?
According to Statista, the global ecotourism sector is estimated to reach USD 333.8 billion by 2027. The best way to venture into an ecotourism career is by pursuing a related degree. Ecotourism jobs are adventurous and In increasing circumstances, eco-conscious job opportunities are beginning to pay more than ordinary travel jobs.
15 Sustainable Tourism Jobs to Pique Your Interest:
There are numerous job options within sustainable tourism and available positions will vary. Sustainable tourism is only growing, which means opportunities for tourism jobs will grow as well.
Below, we’ve put together a list of sixteen different possible areas to consider when looking for sustainable tourism jobs. Hopefully something in here will spark your interest and help you decide which direction to take next in your career.
1. Sustainable Tour Guide
Guided tours are the backbone of the tourism industry. As more people travel with purpose or for ecotourism, it greatly opens up the possibilities on what types of tours and adventures can be offered.
If you’re a local in a popular destination, and/or an expert on a specific place, region, nature or sustainability, working as a sustainable tour guide would be a great career for you.
2. Sustainable Tourism Educator
Sustainable tourism is still a new concept, which means a lot of people don’t know what it is. Educating and advocating for sustainable tourism both within and outside of the industry is essential to keep things moving in a positive direction.
If you have an education or advocacy background, you might be great as a sustainable tourism educator. You can work with sustainable tourism organizations, publications, NGO’s or on your own in this role.
3. Environmental Architecture
Eco-resorts and hotels, as well as sustainable businesses, are becoming more prevalent which means using environmental architects is crucial. If you have an architecture or design background, working with businesses to build and design using sustainable methods, materials and green designs would be a great fit for you.
4. Work For Your Favorite Sustainable Travel Organization
If you’re already a fan of what an organization is doing, and want to be a part of it, keep your eye on their career pages for job openings! Just like any business, sustainable travel companies will have numerous job needs in various fields. This is a perfect way to find sustainable tourism jobs you’re passionate about.
No job opening? No problem! Don’t be afraid to reach out and let them know how you could be a valuable asset to their team, and why you love what they’re doing.
5. Sustainable Tourism Development and Planning
Tourism development and planning is responsible for the growth of tourism in any given area. It involves strategizing, planning, building and maintaining the tourism industry in a specific place. Seek out companies that work with tourism development, sustainable or not, and see if you can find a job in this field.
Your work will have a direct impact on the creation and development of what sustainable tourism will become in that region.
6. Work For a Sustainable Hotel
Additionally, there are numerous online booking services for sustainable accommodation like And Beyond, Book Different or Ecobnb. Check out companies like these for a variety of sustainable tourism jobs to choose from. Stay connected to publications and brands like Hidden Lemur to keep up to date on new trends in the industry that might appeal to you.
7. Sustainable Travel Writer
If writing is your skillset, you’re in luck! Writing for various sustainable travel publications, like ours, would be a great fit for you. Consider starting your own travel blog or write for an established publication. There are an endless number of publications to pitch to. From sustainable travel guides, to educational or promotional pieces- there’s a plethora of topics for sustainable travel writers to write about.
Don’t limit yourself to only pitching to publications that specifically focus on sustainable tourism. Most publications will consider pieces on this topic, thanks to the growing interest in it.
8. Work for a Sustainable Transport Company
As green transportation grows, so do the companies making this more accessible, creating numerous sustainable tourism jobs for the public.
Airlines around the world are working to offset their carbon footprint. Platforms like Splinster, Uber Bike, Lime, Citibike, or ride sharing apps, help people find sustainable ways to get around any given city. These are all great companies to check out for job openings.
9. Sustainable Tourism Advisor
As countries around the world work to find ways to promote tourism in their city with the least amount of negative impact, they often consult advisors. Sustainable tourism advisors help educate destination leaders in countries and governments on best tourism practices and laws. Advisors also propose solutions to issues these locations may face.
Many people who go into this field either create their own business or work with sustainable tourism organizations that already do this.
10. Sustainable Tourism Operator
Similar to being a sustainable tour guide, you can also work with, or start, a sustainable tourism company. Tour companies like I like Local, Tours by Locals and Hidden Jungle Expeditions are wonderful sustainable tourism operators.
Working for established companies like these creates various sustainable tourism jobs for a varying degree of skill sets. This field is especially great for those who love to be on the ground, traveling, or working directly with people throughout the world.
11. Sustainable Business Advisor
Sustainable travel organizations often work with businesses throughout the world to advise them on how to be more sustainable. This ranges from how to build their business, what materials to use, how to ethically pay their employees and what eco friendly business practices they can implement.
If you have experience in tourism, business or an environmental background, a sustainable business advisor might be perfect for you. Many advisors work independently, or with another sustainable tourism organization.
12. Environmental Consultants
Environmental consultants can essentially work anywhere in the world, depending on the gig. When countries, cities, or businesses are working on sustainable tourism development and planning, they will need someone to address and collect data on environmental issues in any given area.
Environmental consultants can help address water pollution, air quality, and wildlife protection as well as how to improve or regulate any issues in these areas. This is essential for creating viable sustainable tourism destinations and businesses. It can also help to address if a destination is experiencing environmental damage from overtourism, and what to do about it.
13. Sustainable Business Owner
One great way to work in sustainable tourism is to start your own sustainable business! Be it a restaurant, tour company, hotel, NGO, publication- if you have a great vision and the drive and skills to do so, why not start your own business? If you’ve always wanted to be a budding entrepreneur, create your own sustainable tourism jobs!
14. Work for an Eco-labeling Organization
Those certified eco hotels you choose to book, or the fair-trade, organic restaurants and stores you frequent, rely on their label to attract sustainable tourists. If you’re more interested in eco friendly travel and business, you may want to consider working for an eco-labeling organization.
You can help certify and label businesses ranging from hotels to restaurants to tour operators. A great place to start is by checking out businesses like the Rainforest Alliance.
15. Find a Job in the Tourism and Travel Industry and Make it Sustainable
If you have yet to work in tourism or travel, your best bet is to find a job within the travel industry and work to create change from the inside. Work with your boss and company to make the company and/or position more sustainable. Be a fierce advocate for sustainable tourism. After all, the ultimate goal is for all travel and tourism to be sustainable. Changing the tourism industry from the ground up is an amazing way to do just that.
Sustainable Tourism Organizations to Check Out For Career Inspiration:
The following organizations are leaders in the sustainable travel industry and we’re big fans of them. Check out their career pages and see if there is a job opening that aligns with your skillset.
While these organizations are incredible, there are so many more businesses doing wonderful work in this field. Keep doing your research and you may just have numerous sustainable tourism jobs to choose from.
- UN World Travel Organization
- Sustainable Travel International
- The Travel Foundation
- The Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development
- Global Sustainable Tourism Council
- Asian EcoTourism Network
- Hidden Lemur (yup, that’s us!)
- Ecotourism Australia
- Responsible Travel
- The New Zealand Tourism Sustainability Commitment
- The International Ecotourism Society
- Center for Responsible Travel
- Tread Right