04 October 2011

Rate of Irish emigrants to Australia "staggering"

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Australian working holiday visas are becoming increasingly popular among the Irish, say immigration authorities.

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Australian working holiday visas are becoming increasingly popular among the Irish, say immigration authorities.

Record numbers of people from Ireland are now living and working in Australia.  According to the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship  (DIAC), in the 12 months between June 2010 and June 2011, the number of Irish people who received an Australian visa increased by 50 per cent to 21,784.

Rodney Harrex, General Manager of Tourism Australia in the UK and northern Europe, acknowledged the growth in Irish immigration to Australia, describing the numbers as "staggering".

In 2006, just after Mr Harrex began in the aforementioned role, he expressed his desire to focus more on attracting Irish citizens to Australia. 

"Ireland has become a Tier 2 market having been elevated from Tier 3, with some very powerful indicators coming out with good emerging segments, much more than working holiday visa holders right through to older travellers and we are now spending AUD $1 million in Ireland, up from $100K," he said, referring to the tier system by which Tourism Australia ranks potential markets for Australian immigration.

According to the latest census data available, there are more than 50,000 Australian residents who were born in the Republic of Ireland.

The sharp spike in Irish applications for a visa can partly be accounted for by the occurence of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. According to an editorial in The Irish Times, "the Irish in Australia are making up the numbers  and travelling across the Tasman Sea to cheer on Ireland's most successful odyssey to date in the World Cup".

Beyond the short-term impact of the World Cup on immigration numbers, the Irish Times also said "Australia remains a magnet for the Irish, particularly young Irish people."

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