Travel Agent

Travel agents make travel arrangements based on the needs, budgets and tastes of customers. Clients may include individuals, families or groups, and business people.

A travel agent's role is to help people plan, choose and arrange their holiday. They will usually work to a budget, set out by whoever is planning the holiday. They also offer advice and opinions on where to go and local tourist attractions, events and customs.

Travel agents give information to customers and answer questions concerning transportation, passports, visas, currency regulations, tourist attractions, hotel reservations and the booking of flights. They also make other special arrangements which customers may request such as car rentals, sightseeing trips, or ordering of traveller’s cheques.

Typical duties include promoting and marketing the business, dealing with customer queries and complaints, recruiting, training and supervising staff, managing budgets, maintaining statistical and financial records, selling holidays and insurance, meeting profit or sales targets and preparing promotional materials and displays.

When travel agents make these arrangements, they must consult tariff schedules such as those that are published by the International Air Travel Association (IATA). Similar guides are used to gain other tourist information on accommodation. They also make recommendations to clients on the strength of their own experience or knowledge.

The travel industry is highly specialised and computers play an important role in the collection of information, planning, bookings and the processing of itineraries.

Some agents, especially those who are self-employed, also do promotional work, such as hold meetings with business managers to suggest for example, company-sponsored trips.

Important skills are that they must be commercially aware, have good interpretational skills, numerical ability and good verbal communication skills.

Personal Requirements

  • good appearance
  • able to get along with others
  • helpful, pleasant, friendly, patient, tactful and polite
  • able to assume responsibility
  • sales ability
  • able to communicate well in speech and writing
  • broad travel experience
  • computer literate
  • bilingual or multilingual
  • good knowledge of geography, at the very least of the country where working

How to Enter

National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution its own entry requirements.

What to Study

Diploma: N.Dip: Tourism Management or Travel & Tourism - NMMU, UNISA, DUT, CPUT, CUT, UJ, TUT, VUT.

Certificate: Tourism - TVET colleges such as Boland, Ekurhuleni West, Port Elizabeth, Vuselela, Tshwane S, Northlink, South and Northern Cape, SW Gauteng and Umgungundlovu TVET Colleges.

This course takes 3 years to complete full-time and offers valuable training for prospective travel agents.
Very limited employment opportunities exist for unqualified persons as only a few firms have the facilities to give in-service training. The candidate works mostly with files to get acquainted with the work.

Most travel agencies employ people who have already completed some sort of training for this career. These courses are usually completed by correspondence and are offered by Safari, Galileo, Rapid Results College, Damelin and Rennies. Business-related courses can also be considered.

At some travel agencies an examination is written at the end of the first year. After sufficient basic knowledge is obtained the agent may serve the public.

Special licensing or certification is required by the Travel Agents’ Board. Travel agencies have to be licensed with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to be able to issue i


  • SATOUR and other tourism boards
  • private travel agencies
  • self-employment, with enough experience, initiative and capital, can open own travel agency

Further Information

Association of SA Travel Agents (ASATA)
Suite 6, Lower Ground Floor, Block A,
Hurlingham Office Park
59 Woodlands Avenue (just off Republic Rd)
Hurlingham Extension 5
Tel: (011) 327-7803

Getting Started

  • try to obtain vacation or part-time work in a travel agency or tourist resort
  • arrange to speak to travel agents about this type of career and ask permission to observe them at work

Programmes by Study Institutions

Related Occupations

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