Winter tourism boom sparks hiring surge

By Cheng Si | China Daily | Updated: 2024-01-23

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Tourism companies have increased their hiring thanks to the boom in winter tourism in recent months, with service providers in northern China proving particularly eager to recruit, according to a report from recruitment portal Zhaopin.

Tourism and leisure-related job openings saw continuous growth last year, and the portal's latest report said that job openings in tourism and leisure increased by 52 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, with the growth topping all other industries on the platform in that quarter.

While the first quarter of 2023 remained lackluster due to the lingering impact of COVID on the sectors, the second and third quarters saw growth rates of 25 percent and 28 percent, respectively, said the report.

Northern provinces and regions such as the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Heilongjiang province have seen massive increases in tourism-related job vacancies in the past quarter.

Zhaopin said that Xinjiang saw a year-on-year rise of 285 percent in tourism-related job openings in the fourth quarter, and Heilongjiang recorded 112 percent growth after the province's capital city Harbin went viral online for its breathtaking snowy views and people's hospitality.

During the recent three-day New Year holiday, over 3.04 million tourists visited Harbin, resulting in tourism-related revenue of 5.9 billion yuan ($837 million).

"The most important reason for the recruitment surge lies in the good recovery of the tourism industry. The COVID-19 epidemic hit the tourism market hard," said Zhang Jinshan, a researcher at Beijing Union University.

He said that the relaxation of policies on epidemic control and the tourism market recovery from early last year lifted tourism operators' expectations, who then started to resume or increase their business and stepped up recruitment.

Zhaopin's Vice-President Li Qiang, said that the growing demand from the public and preferential government policies had also boosted employment in the tourism sector.

"Our surveys show that traveling is among people's top wishes in the post-epidemic era. Figures from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism proved the public's surging traveling demand. For example, domestic visits reached about 1.84 billion last summer," he said.

"The preferential policies released by governments at all levels and tourism consumption coupons have also played important roles in boosting the tourism industry and the employment recovery."

He said that job seekers are regaining their confidence in landing jobs in the tourism sector.

"We've seen that the starting salary of tourism vacancies increased by 5.1 percent year-on-year in the fourth quarter, which can help to attract more talent."

However, the tourism market has also displayed some structural changes in the post-epidemic era, said experts.

Zhang Jinshan, the researcher, said that the popular destinations or those which have recovered well have greater hiring needs than "niche" attractions.

He said that the tourism sector has lower recruitment standards, and workers in the industry need to improve their abilities and services in order to better adapt to the changing tourism market.

"The tourism industry faces a talent shortfall of those people good at business management and activity planning in the post-epidemic era. The industry also lacks people with expertise in running professional businesses including self-driving campsites, skiing, cruises and health-oriented tours," he said.

Li, Zhaopin's vice-president, added that the government could offer funding to help tourism companies attract talent, and encourage tourism companies to cooperate with universities or colleges to raise the industry's skills level.

"Tourism companies could also improve their evaluation system and offer more competitive salaries," he added.