Skip top navigation
School of Sport, Recreation, and Tourism Management - George Mason University

“Mom, Dad, I’ve decided to work in the tourism industry!”

Does this declaration from your son or daughter excite you about the diverse career opportunities and enriching life experiences that lie ahead, or does it have you worrying about your student’s ambition and ability to succeed?  What exactly is a career in tourism and events management anyway?

Tourism is one of America’s largest service exports, generating $93.7 billion in spending by international visitors and providing a $5.8 billion balance of trade surplus for the United States.  It directly creates 7.3 million jobs and over $162 billion household income.  Events management is a growing industry that already employs thousands and generates billions of dollars worldwide.

Many people see only the numerous part-time, low paying jobs that the industry offers, and think that tourism and events management jobs are for tiding you over until a ‘real career’ develops.  They don’t see the highly technical and demanding jobs that are done by planners, marketers, site managers, operators, designers, programmers, leaders, instructors, researchers, consultants and many others whose qualification and work is essential to the success of this major industry.  These are the hidden careers to which many entry-level positions lead, and for which post-secondary education and training is required.

Tourism and events management salaries are supplemented by a variety of unique benefits that may include corporate-wide discounts, complimentary meals or services, travel opportunities, flexible hours, gratuities, and bonuses.  Competitive salaries help keep good people in the field and are seen as good business investments.

Vertical and lateral mobility within the industry is excellent, and the skills and understanding that your student develops are highly transferable to other sectors of the industry and to other geographic or cultural settings.  Opportunities for advancement often come quickly, especially when the young professional has a solid educational experience to back up his or her professional enthusiasm and entrepreneurial accomplishments.  There are hundreds of thousands of employers in the industry, but some professionals take advantage of the industry's many opportunities for entrepreneurship by running their own businesses.

Your student’s interest in tourism and events management opens the door to a rewarding, stable, and satisfying career which offers a variety of responsibilities, opportunities to work with diverse populations, potential for rapid advancement, and some unique perks.  It’s not all fun and games, but sometimes it feels like it.  And it pays!