Tourism and Hospitality: a profession of choice

better tourism mindset
Tourism & Hospitality - a profession of choice from Tina O'Dwyer of The Tourism Space

On International Women’s Day, I was particularly impacted by Gina Murphy, proprietor of Dublin restaurant Hugo’s who was a speaker at the GMIT ‘Women in Irish Food’ event.

Gina was alive with her passion for the hospitality industry and the people who work in it. Gina spoke of her own team of people, some of whom have been with her for 10 or even 15 years, some now in their mid and late 40s for whom her restaurant had been their life’s profession. 

Hugo’s is located very near Irish Government Buildings in Dublin. Gina told how she has regularly turned on the lights stood at the door of her closed restaurant over the past year. She has stopped politicians, ministers and government leaders as they passed by. She has spoken to them about the plight of the industry, to advocate for her team and all who work in tourism and hospitality. She has been literally fighting for respect and recognition for businesses like hers and the professionals who work in them.


A Profession of Choice

A key point that Gina made was that people who work in this industry are professionals, that they have careers in tourism and hospitality, that they have built their lives and livelihoods on tourism and hospitality. 

Too often, there’s as assumption, at least in this part of the world, that work in tourism and hospitality is somehow lesser work. The fact that it is one of the world’s largest employers - about 10% of the world’s population work in tourism and hospitality – doesn’t seem to get quite the respect that could reasonably be expected. 


The magnetic pull of tourism and hospitality

Last week’s article ‘Tourism: A drug of choice’ highlighted how the people who love this industry and who stay with it despite many external challenges are there by choice.  I can share more examples of the fact that tourism and hospitality is a professional career choice, not something people fall into because they had no other choice or no other skill.  Below are some snippets of real conversations I’ve been part of in very recent times:

“Didn’t you have a job in the bank? Couldn’t you go back to something like that?”. “I lead our family business and employ many local people. We are committed to that.”

“Didn’t your online pivot turn out really well? You must be delighted!” “Yes, it saved us. I didn’t set up my business to spend my time in the backroom doing facebook ads and packing boxes though. I’m in a people business. I want to be out front meeting and welcoming people.’

“I’ve left this industry a few times and it just keeps calling me back. It’s like a magnetic pull.”

“I’ve worked in multinationals and corporations and yes, had a great salary and bonuses. But I never found the satisfaction and camaraderie and enjoyment that I have found in tourism.”

“What we do makes a difference in real time to real people. This is the first job that I’ve felt that in.”


The colour in our lives

“Tourism and hospitality provide the colour in life. We’ve now seen how dull it really is without them.”

So said a contributor in another session recently. How true! How dull it really is without bars, restaurants, eateries, theatres, experiences, places to visit, holidays, events to attend, nights away, spaces to gather.

Those who serve in the tourism and hospitality industry are in the business of happiness, connection, memories, escape, celebration. We miss it so much and have come to realise the true value of the industry to society.  


Nobility & Dignity

When listening to Gina Murphy earlier this month, the words that sprung to mind were how noble and dignified she was in the face of enormous adversity. Emerging from Covid-19, let’s hope that we remain aware of the nobility of this profession, the nobility of the people who serve so fully, so wholeheartedly and who put the colour in the lives of the rest of us.



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