Work, stay and play in Australia

Today’s announcement from the Federal Government will make the Working Holiday Maker visa program more attractive by allowing visa holders to stay longer and have increased work flexibility.

The Tourism & Transport Forum has consistently called for the Federal Government to address a range of labour and skills challenges including providing more flexible workforce options, and it’s positive for the industry today to see a leap in the right direction.

Chief Executive Officer Margy Osmond said working holiday makers get to know our country during a formative part of their lives and often they come back later in life with fond memories of Australia and the time they spent here.

“Australia has long been a popular destination for working holiday makers, but we have seen a decline over the years. With these changes we will see an increase in the appeal of Australia as a working holiday maker destination,” Ms Osmond said.

“The extension of the age limit for working holiday makers from 30 to 35 for those with Canadian and Irish nationalities is also welcomed, as is the relaxation of employment restrictions that will allow backpackers to extend the time they can work with same agricultural employer from 6 to now 12 months, as is the introduction of a third-year visa option. All these changes will allow more people from a wider range of countries to consider working, staying and playing in Australia.

“Tourism is the lifeblood of many regional and remote destinations, and the announcement today would provide a great shot in the arm for regional businesses and communities that need it the most.”

However, the Tourism & Transport Forum notes the $450 cost of a working holiday maker visa is still too high, especially when considering the cost was $280 for the same visa just seven years ago (in 2011).

The Government and Opposition must consider lowering visitor visa charges to stimulate visitation and make Australia more competitive. The costs of Australia’s visa’s are a genuine barrier to visitors choosing Australia above other destinations, particularly when the Passenger Movement Charge, now $60, is an additional cost burden,” Ms Osmond said.