Tourism jobs slump 25% as Covid-19 wreaks havoc on sector

Data published by jobs website Indeed to mark UN World Tourism Day this weekend

The Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare, are one of Ireland’s top touristic attractions.

The Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare, are one of Ireland’s top touristic attractions.


Tourism jobs have slumped by 25 per cent this year as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic wreaks havoc in the sector, new data suggests.

Data published by jobs website Indeed to mark UN World Tourism Day this weekend examines the share of tourism jobs across several European countries.

Both job postings and searches containing keywords such as “tourism” and “hospitality” fell by 25 per cent in Ireland compared to 2019. However Ireland, along with Germany, remained one of the least affected European countries in terms of job declines.

The Irish tourism industry attracted nine million visitors to this country last year. A sectoral report produced for the Government in recent months acknowledged that up to 200,000 jobs could go in the sector over the next year due to anti-virus restrictions.

A worst-case scenario of no overseas visitors for the remainder of the year, in addition to a 20 per cent decline in domestic tourism, could lead to an overall loss to the economy of €2.3 billion, it said.

The study added that 75 per cent of the sector is “deeply dependent” on overseas visitors with only a proportion of this expected to be offset by a rise in domestic tourism.

According to the data from Indeed, the countries that saw the biggest declines in job postings in tourism were the Netherlands, UK and Italy.

Ireland saw the biggest decline in searches for tourism jobs out of all the countries examined. An Indeed spokeswoman said this indicated that jobseekers here quickly pivoted their search to areas hiring immediately, adapting quickly to the labour market changes.

The data shows a stark contrast to years previous when Ireland had a buoyant tourism industry which had seen a 7 per cent growth in jobs between 2016 and 2019.

“Increasing disposable income and falling cost of travel helped fuel the rapid growth of the industry worldwide,” said the spokeswoman. “The sector was facing possible labour shortages in Ireland, with job postings far outstripping searches.

Jack Kennedy, an economist with Indeed, said tourism is vitally important to the Irish economy, particularly in rural areas.

“Last year Brexit was the biggest threat facing the sector, however Covid-19 has brought a fresh wave of challenges,” he said.

“Travel restrictions and a drop in consumer demand have led to a dramatic fall in international tourism, affecting virtually every country. Tourism accounts for one in 10 jobs worldwide and is a major source of employment due to its labour intensive nature.

“Tourism is vital to the Irish economy. It employs many in rural communities across Ireland, acting as an economic pillar that provides jobs and opportunity, especially for younger people. It also has a big knock-on effect on the informal economy in these regions, due to the multiplier effect it has on jobs.

“We’ve also seen the effect in larger cities like Dublin, with areas such as arts and culture in the capital often reliant on footfall from both domestic and international tourists, neither of which are happening right now with the local restrictions in place.”