What is it about?

To achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #8 of decent work by 2030, this study discusses tendencies and shortcomings in the debate around the working conditions and well-being of employees in hospitality and tourism, especially after COVID-19. This debate focuses mainly on new and important alternative forms of tourism that are growing, such as sustainable tourism, community-based tourism, responsible tourism, slow tourism, and more recently, regenerative tourism, which for the moment remain small-scale in terms of numbers. At the same time, the tourism reality in most traditional beach, mountain and urban destinations is still based on growth, which has negative consequences for the working conditions and well-being of tourism employees. The possible scenario that the authors describe in a circular model is as follows. Good working conditions including a higher wage increase the productivity of the employee, because the employee shows a higher effort at work in exchange for the higher wage. The higher employee productivity enhances the quality of services that the employee provides to tourists. A higher quality of the service increases the profitability of the tourism company, because the employee creates more value for the tourist, for which the tourist is willing to pay more. The increased profitability makes the company more competitive and allows the company to pay higher salaries to its employees and to provide better working conditions to better qualified workers, increasing employee well-being. A regulatory policy is needed to guarantee that the gains of a higher profitability for the tourism company translate into higher wages and better working conditions for employees, especially in the mass tourism segment.

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Why is it important?

Job quality (including a higher wage, job security and a supportive work environment) is crucial for the well-being of people working in tourism and hospitality, as well as for their productivity at work and the quality of the services they provide to visitors and community residents, and as a result, for the profitability of the tourism businesses they work for. Although some researchers have been calling for more critical investigations of working conditions in the hospitality and tourism industry, research and policies targeting sustainable tourism still mostly ignore the quality of tourism and hospitality jobs in traditional beach, mountain and urban destinations. To fill this gap in the current debate, the authors of this study provide a new perspective on promoting decent work in traditional tourism destinations. Using previous research on gift exchange theory, they present a possible scenario (a circular dynamic) that should stimulate debate among researchers and local policymakers of how decent work and quality of life can be achieved for people working in popular tourism destinations. Watch the article summary on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rjVTVl5DO-0&t=2s


In the midst of the peak season, restaurants and bars in Europe reduced opening hours or closed the kitchen because they could not find staff, underlining the importance of decent work and quality jobs in tourism and hospitality. Creating talent is key, both in educational programmes and on-the-job staff training, but enhancing job quality (higher wages, job security, and a supportive work environment) in traditional tourism destinations is required to avoid losing these talents to other industries - for good.

Dr. Eva Vroegop
Fondazione Campus, Lucca, Italy

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Decent work in traditional tourism destinations: tourism Agenda 2030 perspective article, Tourism Review, January 2023, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/tr-08-2022-0414.
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