30 April 2009

Australian working holiday will keep Aussie tourism afloat

The Australian working holiday program has been dubbed the saviour of the Australian tourism industry by the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC). While numbers of short-stay international tourists are down, the numbers of Australian working holiday visa holders continues to prove resilient.

Amanda Gripske from the Australian Visa Bureau has also noticed a strong interest in the Australian working holiday visa program this year.

"Last year, a huge number of Australian working holiday visas were granted, and surprisingly, 2009 has been showing even stronger results," Ms Gripske said.

"Clearly, the economic slowdown has not been a deterrent for young travellers, many of whom have seen the opportunity of travelling Australia for 12 months while they ride out the recession."

The ATEC said that while the Australian tourism industry stands to lose up to $1 billion this year because of the global recession, the Australian working holiday program would continue to fuel the tourism economy.

Matthew Hingerty, the council's managing director, said young backpackers generally spend double the amount of other travellers over a much longer period of time. 

"Economically they are critical," he said.

"We earn about $26 billion a year in foreign exchange through tourism.  Of that $3 billion comes from the backpacker industry.  They spend on average over $5000. They spend it around the country. They disperse the tourism dollars.

"But more importantly these people go back to their home countries and become great advocates for Australia, in government and in business."

An Australian working holiday visa allows travellers aged 18 to 30 years to work and travel in Australia for up to twelve months for any employer, provided they do not work for one employer for longer than six months.  The visa holder also gets the opportunity to apply for a second working holiday visa if they work in the horticultural or construction industry for three months or more in regional Australia.

If you are interested in taking 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 Australia working holiday visa application.

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