Hotel, catering and tourism workers earn on average 20 per cent less than employees in other sectors, according to a new report released today by the International Labour Organization (ILO), which opened an expert meeting on the issue in Geneva on Monday.
Taken together, the hotel, catering and tourist sectors produce 3-4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in most countries, according to the ILO. Most of the employees in these sectors are unskilled, working in part-time or low-wage jobs. "Up to half the workers in the industry are under 25 years old and up to 70 per cent are women," the ILO report states.
The worst form of child labour in tourism is seen in the sex trade, the ILO says. Though the problem remains widespread, the report points to the growing indignation of the international community at this exploitation and highlights "the increasing participation of international employers and workers' organizations and the World Tourism Organization in combating child prostitution in tourism."
Other labour problems affecting the hotel, catering and tourism industry are high staff turnover, irregular working hours, low levels of unionization -- less than 10 per cent -- and intense pressure on the environment as tourism reaches into far flung destinations, according to the report.
The ILO finds some good news in the growing tourism industry, noting that trips are becoming shorter but more frequent, with new market niches, such as nature tourism, eco-tourism and adventure tourism flourishing in response to consumer demand, often with substantial benefits for populations in remote rural areas.
During the week-long meeting, industry experts will focus on globalization, employment and human resources development in the hotel, catering and tourism sectors.