Tourism employment results

The employment data cover direct, indirect and state and territory results.

Considerations on employment data

The employment numbers are an average for the full financial year and do not reflect the severity of the current situation. This is due to:

  • many tourism employees remaining on company payrolls while on JobKeeper support
  • tourism recovering more slowly than other parts of the economy due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Direct and indirect employment

Tourism directly employed 621,100 people in 2019–20. This was down 7% compared with 2018–19. Falls ranged from 0.3% for SA to 16% for the ACT.

Indirect employment declined more sharply than direct employment. Falls ranged from 16% for WA to 28% for NT. As a result, tourism’s direct share of employment in Australia fell from 5.2% to 4.8%. Over this same period Australia’s workforce grew 0.1%.

Tourism employment by state, 2019–20
State Persons directly
employed in
Change on
Persons indirectly
employed in
Change on
NSW 175.1 -8.5% 81.0 -22.7%
Vic 166.5 -7.4% 65.5 -21.6%
Qld 135.9 -6.3% 70.7 -20.7%
SA 40.4 -0.3% 19.2 -17.6%
WA 65.8 -1.1% 29.0 -15.6%
Tas 21.0 -5.4% 16.3 -22.1%
NT 7.3 -12.1% 5.2 -28.4%
ACT 9.2 -16.4% 5.5 -27.5%
Total 621.1 -6.6% 292.4 -21.1%

Direct employment by sector nationally

While tourism cuts across 12 different industries, just 4 industries accounted for almost three quarters of all direct employment nationally. These were:

  • Food services – 33% share
  • Retail – 17%
  • Accommodation – 12%
  • Transport – 11%.

State and territory employment

Tourism employment in states and territories follow similar patterns to the national sector breakdown. Notable exceptions include:

  • NT had a lower than average share of food services employment, but higher share of transport employment. It also had the lowest share of travel agent employment.
  • Similar to NT, Qld also had a lower than average share of employment in food services, and higher share in transport.
  • Vic had higher than average share of food services employment.
  • ACT had a higher than average share of employment in accommodation.
  • Tas had a higher share of people working in transport.

Changes in the tourism workforce through the pandemic

Quarterly labour force statistics from the ABS show there has been significant change in the tourism workforce during the pandemic:

  • tourism jobs peaked at 744,900 jobs in the December quarter 2019
  • they then fell 19% over the first six months of 2020 to 606,400 jobs
  • tourism jobs then increased 9.6% in the December quarter 2020 to 664,400 jobs.

Part-time jobs in tourism exceeded full-time jobs for the first time on record:

  • In June quarter 2020 the majority of job losses were among part-time tourism workers (down 24%). Full-time jobs were down 8.4%.
  • In the December quarter 2020 part-time employment growth was stronger (up 5.9%) than full-time employment (up 4.3%).

These changes in workforce structure are likely due to:

  • some full-time workers leaving the industry or shifting to part-time as demand reduced in many parts of Australia
  • regions with increased demand recruiting more part-time workers
  • some part-time workers returning to the industry.