Careers Service Occupations

Leisure, Sport & Tourism

Leisure, Sport and Tourism

About

Most employers in the leisure, sport and tourism sector are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) although opportunities also exist in governing bodies, local authorities and sports associations. Larger organisations in this sector also recruit graduates to a range of positions including finance, IT, sales and marketing and general management.

Careers advice

Industry news

Sport and leisure 

Tourism

Professional bodies 

These represent people working in the sector, providing training and networking opportunities. They often provide careers support for students and graduates.

They also provide development for people already working in the sector. Follow them on LinkedIn or visit their websites for news, contacts, work experience and vacancies.

The main professional associations for this sector include:

Sport and leisure

Tourism

Government bodies

Government bodies include UK Sport and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, responsible for sport and tourism and regulating entertainment, gambling and racing. 

Making contacts 

Making contacts is essential for success in this sector. Many jobs in this field are gained through networking and speculative applications. You could start with:

  • Graduate Connections – graduates happy to give you advice about the kind of work they do
  • social media, particularly LinkedIn and Twitter, can be useful for making contacts, following employers and finding opportunities 
  • Newcastle alumni on LinkedIn – find out what they did after graduation and contact them for advice

Events

Recruitment fairs, open days, talks and events give insight and the opportunity to make contacts. For events for this sector see Careers Events

Reference books available in the Careers Service

Working in Tourism: The UK, Europe and Beyond: for Seasonal and Permanent Staff by Verite Reily Collins

Working in sport by James Masters

Related sectors

You may also be interested in Events ManagementHospitality and CateringMuseums and Galleries and Sports Science.

Or see our other occupational pages for more options.

Roles & Skills

The following includes descriptions of typical duties, entry requirements and case studies.

Bookmaker

Cinema manager

Fitness/Leisure centre manager

Outdoor activities/education manager

Personal trainer

Sport and exercise psychologist

Sports administrator

Sports coach/instructor

Holiday representative

Sports development officer

Theme park manager

Tour operator/manager

Tourism officer

Tourist information centre manager

Travel agent/agency manager

Skills employers look for

Employers in this sector will be looking for evidence of the following:

  • strong communication and interpersonal skills
  • excellent customer service ability
  • good organisation skills
  • teamworking capability
  • leadership ability 

Gaining Experience

Getting into this sector is extremely competitive. Work experience can be invaluable in developing relevant skills. It also demonstrates your commitment to recruiters.

Relevant ways of getting experience include:

Finding work experience

Vacation/seasonal work is often available in theme parks, caravan and holiday parks and camp sites, holiday resorts, health/sports centres (especially local authority) and watersports and ski resorts.

Find part-time and work experience opportunities in 'Leisure, sport and tourism' on Vacancies Online.

The Institute of Hospitality’s free Hospitality, Leisure and Tourism Adding Value for Employability (HAVE) scheme is available for students of any discipline who work in the hospitality, leisure and tourism industries part-time or during vacations. The scheme helps reflect on skills development and demonstrate this to prospective employers.

Voluntary opportunities are common across the sports and recreation sector. Get involved with local sports clubs, initiatives and projects to develop your skills, gain experience and make contacts. The following offer opportunities within this field:

For more opportunities, see Volunteering. This includes details of Do-it, where you could gain experience with outdoor pursuits, fundraising, sports coaching, and activity management. 

Internships

A few of the larger leisure companies like Expedia and Kings Recruit offer placements. 

Challenger Sports provide British soccer coaching camps in the USA and Canada. They recruit people from the UK who are thinking of a career in coaching.

Search for more internships for this sector at TARGETjobs.

See also Internships, Placements & Shadowing for more sources of internships.

Finding organisations

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. 

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

The Health and Safety Executive provide details of licensed activity centres and providers.

UK Parks.com gives information about holiday and residential parks in the UK.

Finding Jobs

Competition is strong, especially for entry-level positions, and there are few graduate entry schemes.

Graduate entry schemes that exist are mainly limited to larger leisure organisations. Many organisations don't have resources to run graduate programmes and simply take on staff when needed. 

You may have to begin working at a lower level and progress towards your ideal career.

Use the following resources to find advertised vacancies and employers for speculative applications.

Vacancy sites

Sport and leisure

Tourism

Graduate schemes & entry level jobs

A few larger companies in this sector, mainly in the leisure industry, offer graduate training schemes. These include:

Some travel agencies also offer graduate schemes in head office roles.

Specialist recruitment agencies 

Sports Recruitment International deals with roles in the sports sector.

See Graduate jobs for more vacancy sources.

Finding organisations

Not all jobs are advertised. The majority of organisations in the sector are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). 

They may not advertise positions, so a speculative application can be an effective approach. You may also find work through networking in the industry.

Find organisations that interest you and get in touch, always with a named contact. Be specific about why you are writing to them and what you’re looking for. 

Show your enthusiasm for the sector and highlight any relevant skills. Don’t give up if you don’t get a reply – follow up with a phone call or email to show that you’re keen.

The Health and Safety Executive has details of licensed activity centres and providers.

UK Parks.com provide information about holiday and residential parks in the UK.

Self-employment

Being self-employed or working as a freelancer is relatively common for some roles in the leisure, sport and tourism sector.

Personal trainers are often self-employed, renting space in a gym, setting up facilities or visiting clients at home. 

SkillsActive estimate about 11% of people in the leisure, sport and tourism sector are self-employed.

START UP provide information on information, activities and support for eligible Newcastle students and graduates interested in self-employment.

COBRA provides factsheets and reports on starting up and running a business. COBRA can only be accessed through a University computer on the Newcastle campus.

Futurefit gives handy hints for being self-employed in the fitness industry.