Wanted: a way through for Indonesia’s vulnerable tourism workers

One in 10 Indonesian workers are directly affected by an unprecedented standstill in the tourism sector, which contributes nearly 6% of GDP.


How have the global and domestic restrictions on movement due to COVID-19 impacted on this group, particularly the most vulnerable, and how will they recover?

A new Australia-Indonesia Centre (AIC) Rapid Research project team will conduct an economic impact assessment across all 34 provinces, looking at risks to employment and the impact of lost tourism employment for women, youth and low income groups.

Across the world, more than 100 million job losses are predicted in the tourism sector due to the pandemic.

In Indonesia, in January-April 2020, international tourist arrivals dropped by 45% compared with the previous year. This figure does not include domestic travel. Many of the 12.5 million tourism-related jobs are held by people in vulnerable groups, including women, young people and people with low skills sets and low income.

Prolonged COVID-19 lockdowns and uncertainty will make it difficult for the tourism sector to recover, worsening the precarious positions of many already vulnerable groups.

In investigating the impact of COVID-19 in the tourism sector, this new project will focus on particular on job losses, the unemployment rate and reduced income for women, youth and people already on low incomes.

“By carrying out an analysis at the provincial level, we will identify the marginalised and vulnerable communities that are most impacted by the tourism decline during the pandemic”, explained project Co-lead Dr Ya-Yen Sun from the University of Queensland.

The results of this study will provide policy-makers with crucial evidence to make critically important immediate and long-term decisions about supporting vulnerable groups who have lost their livelihoods.

“During this critical time of the global pandemic, significant and swift government measures are needed to support the tourism industry and to protect the livelihoods of workers”, said Co-lead Dr Ilmiawan Auwalin from Universitas Airlangga .

Researchers will also provide advice on the stimulus packages required to upskill, re-skill and multi-skill labour forces, and to strengthen the resilience of the sector to respond to future crises.


The research team

Co-leads: Dr Ya-Yen Sun (UQ), Dr Ilmiawan Auwalin (UNAIR)

Participant: Dr Jie Wang (UQ)


Australian Media enquiries

Marlene Millott
PAIR Program Officer
+61 427 516 851

Indonesian Media enquiries

Fadhilah Trya Wulandari
PAIR Program Officer
+62 8124 3637 755


About the Australia-Indonesia Centre

The AIC was established by the Australian and Indonesian Governments in 2013. It brings together 11 universities – seven Indonesian and four Australian – to advance people-to-people links in science, technology, education, innovation and culture. The AIC designs and facilitates bilateral research programs, taking research outcomes to policy and practice. It forms interdisciplinary teams that work collaboratively with stakeholders – policy, business and community – to find solutions to regional, national and global challenges.

Beyond research, the AIC’s outreach activities contribute to broader people-to-people links. It runs digital dialogues that seek to shed new insights. It supports the deepening of cultural exchange through a binational short film festival, explores respective national attitudes and perceptions towards each other, and brings together future leaders of both nations workshops, dialogues and other programs.

The Rapid Research program is part of the AIC’s Partnership for Australia-Indonesia Research, funded by the Australian Government.  It is AIC’s front-foot response to a better understanding of COVID-19’s impact on Indonesia’s economy and society.  It brings together Sixty Australian and Indonesian researchers from the AIC’s consortium of 11 universities to explore three areas: COVID-19 People and Health; COVID-19, People and Connectivity, and COVID-19, People and Economic Recovery.

Photo by Killian Pham on Unsplash.