Locals employed in tourism sector only accounts to 38.5 percent

Photo shows employees at a resort near a jetty. (Photo/Masraah Naseem/ UNDP Maldives)

A research by human resource sector experts in the Maldives has shown that only 38.5 percent of locals are employed in the tourism sector, the backbone of the country’s economy.

As per the latest census conducted in 2022, 22,244 locals were employed in the tourism sector, accounting for 38.5 percent of the workers in the sector. Meanwhile, 35,598 foreigners are employed in the tourism sector accounting for 61.5 percent of the tourism sector workforce. 

According to the research – 18,658 new entrants are expected for all industries in 2027, of which 2,439 entrants are expected in the tourism sector.

A total of 24,683 Maldivians are expected to be employed in the tourism sector by 2027.  However, the total employee requirement for the sector in 2027 is 78,087.

Therewith, Maldivian workers are not available to meet the demand.

As a result, 55,404 foreigners are expected to work in the Maldivian tourism sector by 2027.

In light of these statistics, it is forecasted in the research that although 38.5 percent of locals accounted for the tourism sector workforce in 2022, the rate will decrease to 32 percent in 2027 while the foreigners accounting for the tourism sector workforce in 2027 will rise to 68 percent.

The researchers, hence, called upon the tourism sector to incentivize greater local participation as their main recommendation to resolve the issue. Further recommendations included:

  •         Change the local-to-expat ratio based on the findings.
  •         Devise, implement and monitor strategies to attract and retain locals in the tourism and hospitality sector.

o   Vocational training institutes, schools, and higher education institutions to offer training and development opportunities to enrich the skill set of employees. These initiatives must focus on cultivation of technical and soft skills, as well as providing knowledge enhancement and training in behavioral and attitude development.

o   The relevant government authorities to establish scholarship and fellowship programs, providing eligible students and employees with opportunities to pursue higher education and gain practical experience in the field.

o   To investigate alternative work arrangements, such as freelancing, contracting, and gig economy principles with a particular focus on encouraging women to join back-of-the-house departments like finance, HR, marketing, and sales. This initiative involves the adoption of digital platforms that facilitate a hybrid working model.

o   Establishing an all-encompassing digital platform that serves as a one-stop destination for industry-related job listings and comprehensive skill and career development information.

o   Incorporate tourism and hospitality values, concepts, and knowledge into the school curriculum.