Bali’s tourism sector has difficulty finding new workers

woman standing in front of flowing water

After the majority of the Covid-related restrictions were relaxed, tourism was on the rise in Bali. However, it is difficult for the tourism sector to find adequate workers. In contrast to the few visitors in 2021, the Central Bureau of Statistics reports that between January and October 2022, close to 1.5 million foreign tourists traveled to Bali.

Al-Jazeera reports that local authorities said they expected up to 1.5 million visitors over the Christmas season. In Bali, almost half of the workforce predicted losing money in 2020. From 60 to 80 percent of the economy is derived from tourism.

“What we are finding is it’s really hard to find qualified and middle-ranking staff because after losing their jobs, they went back to their villages and set up little businesses selling phone cards or that sort of thing”

Will Meyrick, a Scottish chef who co-owns several restaurants in Bali

Bali only welcomed 45 foreign visitors in 2021, primarily as a result of the rigorous border controls and a shuttered airport. This figure was given by Bali’s Central Bureau of Statistics, and Nyoman Gede Gunadika, the head of the province’s tourist division, later confirmed it to CNN.

woman soaking on the swimming pool
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The tourism industry has been impacted by the pandemic after becoming accustomed to the annual presence of millions of travelers. For many nations, like Bali, the Indonesian island so adored by tourists from all over the world, tourism is a major source of economic resources. However, the epidemic has seriously hurt this well-liked tourism destination’s industry.

The number of foreign visitors to Bali dropped from 6.2 million in 2019 to 1.05 million in 2020 to barely 45 in 2021. The 45 visitors were noted between January and October 2021, and the Bali Central Bureau of Statistics has verified this number. Because the island’s Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar has been largely blocked to international aircraft during the year, practically all of these visitors arrived via private yachts.

white and blue yacht on body of water
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Al-Jazeera claims that cruise lines like Carnival and Norwegian can pay unskilled employees between $16,000 and $20,000 annually. Less than $5,000 is the gross domestic product (GDP) per person. Most crew members can set aside a sizeable portion of their pay.

“During the pandemic, people would work for any money or just food,” Ni Luh Putu Rustini, a freelance nanny who has doubled her rates since the pandemic told Al Jazeera. “Now you have to offer 3.2 million rupiahs [$206] per month to even find someone to work and 5 to 6 million rupiahs [$321-$386] per month to keep them. It’s very easy to find a job now so people are no longer satisfied with low salaries like before.”

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The tourism industry in Bali has been shaken in the past. Tourist numbers fell significantly after the 2002 bombings and the Mount Agung eruption in 2017. According to the Australian news channel ABC, despite the need for workers in the hospitality industry, unemployment is high. Many workers rely on food handouts, also known as sembako. This is more common in the south’s popular tourist areas. Many Balinese seeking work have been forced to leave tourist areas and return to rural villages in the north.

According to the Balinese Tourism Board, nearly 70% of money spent in Bali is spent elsewhere. There are very few local schools that can teach the skills required in the marketplace.

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