30 September 2008

Slowing economy doesn't slow down backpackers in Australia

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Despite fears that the global economy is slowing down, the numbers of backpackers in Australia’s adventure state Queensland have continued to grow and a new type of backpacker is also on the travel scene, reports ABC News.

The number of backpackers increased by 11 per cent over the past year, the Gold Coast Tourism Corporation claims, causing the figure to climb to more than 130,000 people.  The UK, Germany and New Zealand were the biggest sources of backpackers for Queensland.

A spokesman from the Corporation also said a new type of backpacker had emerged onto the travel market, known as the 'flashpacker'. 

"So you have your grey nomads drifting and becoming part of this adventure travel or backpacker segment, you also what we call 'flashpackers' - these are people have got the money but are choosing to spend it on efficient travel and putting the dollars that they spend into adventure travel experiences," said Ben Pole.

He also said it is likely that the backpacker market will continue to grow during the economic downturn because it is a more economically viable method of travel.

"The large sums of money aren't necessarily spent on things such as accommodation or transport. The money that is spent in this segment is really dedicated to the attractions, the activities, the experiences," Mr Pole added. 

The most recent report from Tourism Australia shows that in 2007 the most significant backpacking market came from Europe, whose travelling nationals made up over half the number of international backpackers in Australia. 

British travellers comprised 21 per cent of the international backpacker market in Australia, while Germans and Americans accounted for 9 per cent.  Japan and Korea lead the Asian region, each accounting for six per cent of the backpacking market in Australia. 

Backpackers from New Zealand and Korea have made the strongest growth in numbers.  Since 2000, the number of backpackers in Australia from these two countries has increased by 11 per cent every year.

Anna Siggs-Webster, working holiday Division Manager from the Australian Visa Bureau, said, "The volume of working holiday visa sales to Australia for 2008 has increased significantly from 2007 despite fears of the looming credit crunch, which proves Australia will continue to be a favourite destination for young travellers."

The Australian working holiday visa allows young travellers aged 18 to 30 years to work and travel Australia for up to 12 months.  Conditions of the visa mean that visa holders cannot work for one employer for longer than six months.  Those who work in a specified occupation in regional Australia for three months or more are now also allowed to apply for a second working holiday visa.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people apply for an Australia visa.

Article by Jessica Bird, Australian Visa Bureau.

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