Tourism is on the rise in Bali after most of the Covid-related restrictions have been eased. The hospitality industry, however, is facing challenges to hire enough workers. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, close to 1.5 million foreign tourists visited Bali between January and October of 2022, compared with under a hundred arrivals in 2021.
According to Al-Jazeera, local authorities announced that they had planned up to 1.5 million arrivals during the Christmas period. Nearly half of workers in Bali, reported losing income in 2020. Tourism accounts for 60-80 percent of the economy.
“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, told Al Jazeera.
In 2021, Bali only received 45 international tourists, mainly because of the strict border control measures and a closed airport. This number provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics of Bali, and later on was confirmed to CNN by Nyoman Gede Gunadika, head of the tourism section of Bali province.
It’s very easy to find a job now so people are no longer satisfied with low salaries like before.Ni Luh Putu Rustini, freelance nanny
After being accustomed to the arrival of millions of people who visit it annually, the tourism sector has suffered the side effects of the pandemic. Tourism represents a very important source of economic resources for many countries, such as Bali, the Indonesian island so beloved by travelers from all over the world. But with the pandemic, the sector of this popular tourist center has suffered severely.
Bali went from welcoming 6.2 million international visitors in 2019 and 1.05 million in 2020, to just 45 in 2021. The 45 visitors were recorded between January and October 2021 and is a figure confirmed by the Bali Central Bureau of Statistics. These are tourists who have almost all arrived via private yachts, due to the fact that the island’s Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar has been closed to international flights almost all year.
According to Al-Jazeera, cruise lines such as Carnival and Norwegian can pay unskilled staff $16,000-$20,000 per year. The gross domestic product (GDP) per capita is less than $5,000. Most crew members can save a significant part of their income.
“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.”
Bali’s tourism industry has been shaken in the past. Events such as the 2002 bombings and the 2017 eruption of Mount Agung, caused a significant drop in tourist numbers. Despite the need for workers in the hospitality sector, unemployment is high, according to Australian news channel ABC. Many workers rely on food handouts, or sembako. This is more common in the popular tourist areas in the south. Many Balinese, looking for work opportunities, have been forced to leave tourist towns and return to the rural villages in the north.
According to the Balinese Tourism Board, close to 70% of the money spent in Bali leaves the island. There are very few local schools which could teach the skills that are needed in the market place.