23 August 2007

Backpackers flock to Australia with working holiday visa

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Record numbers of backpackers received an Australian working holiday visa in the past year, according to new figures released by the Department of Immigration. In the nine months to March, 102,966 backpackers successfully applied for the visa. This is up 15 per cent from the same period in the previous year.

The highest number of Australian working holiday visas - 23,839 - were issued to young people from the United Kingdom. The Age newspaper reports that this is a reversal of a market downturn in recent years.

The Department of Immigration is predicting the new year will also be a record one, with 130,000 visas to be granted, up from a total of 111,973 this year.

Australian authorities welcome the increase as backpackers spend money, create jobs and fill labour shortages in some sectors. The Australian Tourism Export Council's Backpacker Tourism Advisory Panel chairman Julian Ledger told The Age the increase in working holidaymakers is good news for Australia's labour-starved business sector. "Many businesses, especially in regional Australia, are dependent on backpacker labour," he said.

Changes in the Australian working holiday visa rules earlier this year allow backpackers to work for six months with a single employer, rather than three months under the old rules. It is also now possible to get a visa extension for a second year if a backpacker has done at least three months agricultural work.

The Australian working holiday visa programme is aimed at encouraging cultural exchange and closer ties between Britain and Australia by allowing young people to enjoy extended travel, supplemented by employment.

Interested in going on a working holiday to Australia? More information is available on the Australian Visa Bureau's Australian working holiday visa pages. The Australian Visa Bureau makes the process easy, offering clients a number of exclusive offers. Confirm your eligibility by taking the Australia Online Visa Assessment.

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