15 May 2009

Australian working holiday makers to save Australian tourism

While Australian working holiday makers continue in their droves to travel, work, live and party in Australia, the rest of the tourism market is showing signs of lagging. Australia's overall visitor numbers fell during the first two months of this year from key tourism markets the UK, Japan and Korea, while those from the Middle East, North Africa, China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore and India showed signs of improvement.

Taking a totally opposite turn, the Australian working holiday program has shot through the roof.  The Australian Visa Bureau has witnessed a phenomenal amount of Australian working holiday visa grants during the past few months, which has been attributed to the lack of opportunity to start a career during the recession. 

Amanda Gripske from the Australian Visa Bureau said that while Australia's tourism would be suffering from fewer short-term visitors, the Australian working holiday program would do wonders in offsetting the tourism industry's declining trend by providing long-term backpackers.

"We predicted at the start of the year that 2009 would be a great year for Australian working holidays, and judging by the amount of visa grants issued over the past four months, it looks as though we were spot on."

"We've seen from figures released by the Australian government that Australian tourism for short-term arrivals is not performing at its usual high standard because of the global economy, so the high volumes of Australian working holiday makers would come as a relief to tourism operators around the country," Ms Gripske said.

Luckily for tourism operators, the Australian working holiday remains an uncapped program for young travellers aged 18-30 years from participating countries.  This means that thousands of young travellers can embark upon a working holiday for up to 12 months, and if interested, may have the opportunity to secure employer-sponsorship to get a more permanent Australian visa while they are temporarily employed during this time.  Otherwise, holders of the visa can apply for a second Australian working holiday visa if they work in regional Australia in a specified occupation.

While by nature working holidaymakers do not usually have money burning a hole in their back pocket, the paths they travel and the distribution of their pennies tends to differ markedly from traditional short-term tourists to Australia, meaning that more tourism operators off the beaten track are getting a piece of the pie. 

For this reason, Tourism Australia has been focusing much of its marketing towards the Australian working holiday market, using social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace as their media.  Their most recent ploy – advertising the 'Best Job in the World' – managed to get worldwide attention on the Great Barrier Reef for months on end, which will continue for the next six months while the winner of the competition braggs about his carefree, idyllic Hamilton Island lifestyle once a week in a blog.

After interviewing Australian working holiday makers, Gulfnews reports that the good quality, good value accommodation, convenient and cheap transport, reasonably-priced good food, climate, sport, beaches and most importantly the Australian natural attractions make Australia a favourite destination for backpacking.

If you are interested in an Australian working holiday, take the online assessment to see if you are eligible for an Australian working holiday visa.

The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their Australian working holiday.

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