Even though record numbers of Australians are holidaying outside the country The Backpacker Trade News reports that the outlook for the tourism industry is not all doom and gloom. The Department of Immigration’s latest six monthly report states that applications for working holiday visas in Australia are on the increase.
The Last Six Months
According to The Working Holiday Maker Visa Program Report, in the six months up to December 31st, 2011, the number of travellers on a first year working holiday visa increased by 11.4%.
This return to significant growth, following the sharp decline in 2009 and slight growth in 2010, is linked to the wider global economic situation.
Where Are These Backpackers From?
Much of the growth has come from outside Australia’s traditional markets.
Visas granted to people from Hong Kong rose by 54.9%, from Taiwan by 43.1%, Italy by 30%, Ireland by 24.8% and Japan by 21.2%. Dutch visas dropped by 7.5%.
The UK remains the biggest source market, representing 19.5% of the total. In 2011, 17,760 Brits travelled here on a first working holiday visa – a rise of 1.6% on the previous year.
Impressive Second Year Take-Up For Working Holiday Visas
The take-up for the second year working holiday visa has been impressive with the figures jumping by 34.5% – attributed largely to the delayed flow-on effect of the growth experienced by the first year visa in 2010.
What Work Did They Do?
Of the 25,000 or so second year visa holders, about 90% were engaged in agricultural work in 2010-11. The other working holidaymakers were doing either construction work (9%) or mining work (1%).
The Current Situation
Overall, the working holiday visa programme grew by 14.1%, meaning that, as of 31st December, 2011, there were 130,612 working holiday visa holders in Australia (first and second year visa holders combined). The report says:
“This figure marks a continued healthy growth of the program following the uncharacteristic decline in visa grants experienced in 2009-10, noting that with the exception of 2009-10, the program has steadily grown each year for the last decade. Programme growth is expected to continue for the foreseeable future, but to an extent this will be partly contingent upon the wider global economic situation.”
Julian Ledger, the YHA CEO says:
“The increase in first year working holiday visas issued has come about through the good work of Tourism Australia and the more active state tourism organisations combined with the industry in marketing the working holiday opportunity. This has contributed to increasing the awareness of work opportunities in Oz as compared with home.”