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The Geography of Tourism Employment

Released: 23 November 2012 Download PDF

Key Points

  • There were 2.7 million persons with jobs in tourism characteristic industries in the UK in 2011, 9.1 per cent of all employment.

  • London and the South East were home to 30 per cent of all employment in tourism characteristic industries in the UK in 2011, highlighting the importance of the capital and surrounding areas to the nation’s tourism employment.

  • The tourism share of regional employment was highest in London, Scotland and Wales with employment in tourism accounting for 10 per cent of all employment these areas.

  • At a sub-regional level greater variation has been found than for the region as a whole. At the NUTS 3 level; Torbay (17%), Lochaber, Skye & Lochalsh, Arran & Cumbrae and Argyll & Bute (15%), Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (15%), Gwynedd (15%), and East Cumbria (14%) have the highest proportions of persons with main or second jobs in tourism characteristic industries.

Introduction

Data from the Annual population Survey estimates that employment in main and second jobs in tourism industries in the UK was 2.7 million in 2011, 9.1 per cent of the total for all industries. In this release we reveal how this total is distributed across regions and sub-regions of the UK.

Table 1 shows the totals for individual tourism characteristic industry groups and highlights the importance of the food and beverage serving industry for employment compared with all other tourism industries in the UK.

Table 1: UK Employment by Tourism Industry 2011 (000s)

  Industry Group Employment in main & second jobs 2011 (1,000s) Percentage of total for all industries
1 Accommodation for visitors 347 1.2
2 Food and beverage serving activities 1,179 3.9
3 Railway passenger transport 71 0.2
4 Road passenger transport 235 0.8
5 Water passenger transport 13 0.0
6 Air passenger transport 51 0.2
7 Transport equipment rental 26 0.1
8 Travel agencies & other reservation services activities 104 0.3
9 Cultural activities 226 0.8
10 Sports and recreational activities 442 1.5
11 Exhibition and conference activities 27 0.1
       
Subtotal: Tourism industries 2,722 9.1
Subtotal: Non-tourism industries 27,213 90.9
  Total: all industries 29,935 100.0

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Other statistics in this paper are presented by four summary groups for tourism characteristic industries that relate to (i) accommodation, (ii) food and beverage serving, (iii) passenger transport, vehicle rental and travel agencies and (iv) cultural, sports, recreational and exhibition / conference activities.

Regional Employment in Tourism Industries

Figure 1 charts the proportions of employment in the workplaces of each of the 12 regions of the UK that were in the four summary tourism industries in 2011. This shows that in London 10.4 of all employment in the region was within tourism characteristic industries. Scotland, Wales and the English regions of the North East, South West and North West all have proportions of employment in tourism industries higher than the UK average.

Figure 1: Proportion of Employment in Tourism Industries by Region of Workplace 2011

Proportion of Employment in Tourism Industries by Region of Workplace 2011
Source: Annual Population Survey (APS) - Office for National Statistics

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Figure 2 shows the percentages of total UK employment in tourism and non-tourism industries by region in 2011. This gives an indication of the relative importance of each region to total UK tourism employment. This shows the importance of London as a host for employment in tourism, accounting for 16.6 per cent of total UK tourism employment but only hosting 14.3 per cent of employment in other (non tourism) industries.

The South East of England is also an important location for tourism employment with 13.3% of total UK tourism employment, although it actually has slightly more importance as a host for employment in non-tourism activities.

Figure 2: Regional Proportion of Total UK employment in Tourism Industries (workplace based) 2011

Regional Proportion of Total UK employment in Tourism Industries (workplace based) 2011
Source: Annual Population Survey (APS) - Office for National Statistics

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Sub-regional Employment in Tourism Industries

Map 1 shows the overall proportion of employment in tourism industries by NUTS3 area. This averages data from the APS for 2010 and 2011 to ensure that sample sizes are robust. It indicates that tourism is very important in predominantly rural or remote areas, for example in the South West, North West and North East of England, North West Wales, and the Western parts of Scotland.

Conversely, there are ‘hotspots’ of tourism employment in urban London and the much less remote South East of England, for example West Sussex and the Isle of Wight. The map also shows the ‘top 10’ regions where employment in tourism characteristic industries is more than 13 per cent of all employment, and these are listed in the table below.

Top 10 NUTS3 Areas (per cent employed in all tourism industries 2010-2011)

Torbay 16.7 Blackpool 12.9
Lochaber, Skye & Lochalsh, Arran & Cumbrae and Argyll & Bute 15.3 York 12.9
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 14.9 Orkney Islands 12.8
Gwynedd 14.5 Isle of Anglesey 12.8
East Cumbria 14.4 Perth & Kinross and Stirling 12.7

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Map 1: Main and Second Job Employment in Tourism Industries as a Percentage of Total Employment (NUTS 3, 2010-2011)

Main and Second Job Employment in Tourism Industries as a Percentage of Total Employment (NUTS 3, 2010-2011)
Source: Annual Population Survey (APS) - Office for National Statistics

In maps 2 and 3 we split the tourism industries into two categories:

1. Accommodation and Food and Drink Serving Activities

2. Passenger Transport, vehicle hire, travel agencies, cultural, recreation and sporting activities, and conference activities

In Map 2 we can see that for accommodation and food and drink serving activities there is a tendency for higher proportions of employment towards the peripheral and rural areas highlighted in Map 1. This is true for parts of rural Scotland, West Wales, the South West, North West and North East of England. The “top 10” NUTS3 areas are highlighted in Map 2 and these are listed in the table below. 

Top 10 NUTS3 Areas (per cent employed in accommodation and food and drink activities 2010-2011)

Torbay 11.4 West Cumbria 8.6
Lochaber, Skye & Lochalsh, Arran & Cumbrae and Argyll & Bute 10.4 Conwy and Denbighshire 8.5
Gwynedd 10.0 Isle of Wight 8.5
East Cumbria   9.9 Perth & Kinross and Stirling 8.4
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly   9.5 South Ayrshire 8.3

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Map 2: Main and Second Job Employment in Accommodation and Food and Drink Serving Activities as a Percentage of Total Employment (NUTS 3, 2010-2011)

Main and Second Job Employment in Accommodation and Food and Drink Serving Activities as a Percentage of Total Employment (NUTS 3, 2010-2011)
Source: Annual Population Survey (APS) - Office for National Statistics

In Map 3 we can see a different pattern to the distribution of employment in the non food and accommodation tourism industries (Passenger Transport, vehicle hire, travel agencies, cultural, recreation and sporting activities, and conference activities).

Here urban areas, including London, are highlighted as well as more peripheral areas, perhaps reflecting the importance of employment in passenger transport and culture and recreation services. This is highlighted by the fact that the two NUTS3 areas with the highest employment in these industries are those that host Heathrow and Gatwick airports. All of the “top 10” areas in terms of employment in these industries are shown in Map 3 and are shown in the table below.

Top 10 NUTS3 Areas (per cent employed in 'other' tourism characteristic industries 2010-2011)

Outer London - West and North West 6.9 Inner London - East 5.8
West Sussex 6.1 Southampton 5.8
York 6.1 Luton 5.8
Blackpool 6.1 Isle of Anglesey 5.6
Outer London - South 5.9 Orkney Islands 5.5

Table source: Office for National Statistics

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Map 3: Main and Second Job Employment in Other Tourism Characteristic Industries as a Percentage of Total Employment (NUTS 3, 2010-2011)

Main and Second Job Employment in Other Tourism Characteristic Industries as a Percentage of Total Employment  (NUTS 3, 2010-2011)
Source: Annual Population Survey (APS) - Office for National Statistics

Conclusions

Tourism makes a significant contribution to employment in the UK accounting for 9 per cent of all main and second job employment in 2011. The distribution of employment in tourism characteristic industries is, however, unevenly distributed across the regions and sub-regions of the UK.

London has the highest proportion of tourism employment of any of the regions but also contributes 16 per cent of the total UK tourism employment. At the sub-regional level, however, the analysis has identified the hotspots of tourism employment in the rural and peripheral areas of the UK and how this differs across groupings of industries.

Background notes

  1. The Annual Population Survey (APS) from the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) is the source of employment data in this paper.  This is published quarterly, with each release covering a full year’s data. One of the purposes of the APS is to provide data on social and socio-economic variables between the ten-yearly censuses. It is a survey of UK households and it acts as a boost to the quarterly UK Labour Force Survey. This enables the analysis and publication of labour market and related data at regional and sub-regional level and for detailed industries.

  2. The tourism industries in this paper are based on the groupings of “tourism characteristic activities” set out in the United Nations publication “International Recommendations for Tourism Statistics 2008” (IRTS). Each such activity is responsible for products that meet either or both of two criteria:

    (i) Expenditure on the product represent a significant share of total tourism expenditure.

    (ii) The product would cease to exist in meaningful quantities in the absence of visitors.

  3. The tourism activities in the IRTS are defined using detailed industrial classifications (four digit ISIC) and are presented as ten internationally comparable industry groups. The guidance allows for the inclusion of additional country-specific tourism retail and other activities, where appropriate.

    Annex A lists the tourism industry groups used in this paper and their constituent activities. These follow the IRTS closely but exclude real estate activities relating to second homes and timeshare properties and include activities supporting exhibitions, conferences and similar events.

  4. Although this paper focuses specifically on tourism industries it should be noted that the overall volume of tourism-related employment includes some employment in other industries, e.g. many activities in resorts.

    On the other hand, some employment in tourism industries is not tourism-related, for example food and beverage serving in establishments that are usually frequented by local people. Estimates of employment directly resulting from the activities and consumption of tourists are included in Tourism Satellite Accounts which are available separately.

  5. Details of the policy governing the release of new data are available by visiting www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/code-of-practice/index.html or from the Media Relations Office email: media.relations@ons.gsi.gov.uk

Annex A

Annex A: Tourism Industries and Activities

Tourism Industries SIC2007 code Description
Accommodation for visitors 55100 Hotels and similar accommodation
  55202 Youth hostels
  55300 Recreational vehicle parks, trailer parks & camping grounds
  55201 Holiday centres and villages
  55209 Other holiday and other collective accommodation
  55900 Other accommodation
Food and beverage serving activities 56101 Licensed restaurants
  56102 Unlicensed restaurants and cafes
  56103 Take-away food shops and mobile food stands
  56290 Other food services
  56210 Event Catering Activities
  56301 Licensed clubs
  56302 Public houses and bars
Railway passenger transport 49100 Passenger rail transport, interurban
Road passenger transport 49320 Taxi Operation
  49390 Other passenger land transport
Water passenger transport 50100 Sea and coastal passenger water transport
  50300 Inland passenger water transport
Air passenger transport 51101 Scheduled passenger air transport
  51102 Non-scheduled passenger air transport
Transport equipment rental 77110 Renting & leasing of cars and light motor vehicles
  77341 Renting & leasing of passenger water transport equipment
  77351 Renting & leasing of passenger air transport equipment
Travel agencies & other reservation services activities 79110 Travel agency activities
  79120 Tour operator activities
  79901 Activities of tour guides
  79909 Other reservation service activities n.e.c.
Cultural activities 90010 Performing arts
  90020 Support Activities for the performing arts
  90030 Artistic creation
  90040 Operation of arts facilities
  91020 Museums activities
  91030 Operation of historical sites & buildings & similar attractions
  91040 Botanical & zoological gardens and nature reserves activities
Sporting & recreational activities 92000 Gambling & betting activities
  93110 Operation of sports facilities
  93199 Other sports activities
  93210 Activities of amusement parks and theme parks
  93290 Other amusement and recreation activities nec
  77210 Renting and leasing of recreational and sports goods
Country-specific tourism characteristic activities 82301 Activities of exhibition and fair organisers
  82302 Activities of conference organisers
  68202 Letting and operating of conference and exhibition centres

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Notes for Annex A

  1. The IRTS includes the parts of real estate activities with SIC codes 68209 and 68320 that relate to second homes and timeshare properties. These are omitted from the analysis in this paper and other publications from the ONS Tourism Intelligence Unit.

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