According to a report, “Australia’s tourism industry is fighting government plans to raise the cost of a working holiday visa by nearly 30 per cent.” For $AU280 (£184), young people aged between 18 and 30 are granted a hassle-free visa that allows them to stay and work in Australia for up to 12 months, provided that they work for no single employer for more than six months. From next year, however, the Australian government is raising the cost of the visa to $360 (£237) – a 28 per cent increase.

Australia’s working holiday visa programme has always been very popular with backpackers and gap year students, as they like the idea of earning cash whilst traveling abroad. However, the government’s plans have left some Australian residents worried that there will now be a scarce number of working holidaymakers for labour. Concerns are being raised by farmers, who employ working holidaymarkers as fruit pickers. “In the 12 months to July this year, over 200,000 people came to Australia on working holiday – an important asset in booming states where there is a labour shortage,” the report explains.

It’s been said that this sudden price hike will also take its toll on tourist spending in Australia.

Peter Oveden, a board member of Australia Tourism Export Council has written a letter of complained to the Treasurer on behalf on the industry. He explains that Australia should be trying to attract working holidaymakers, not scaring them away.

“The youth and backpacker segment of the tourism industry has been hit hard over recent years, suffering from the impact of the high Australian dollar, fierce international competition from other destinations, and the changing nature of youth travel which has seen more young people sticking to capital cities and minding their budgets,” he said.
“We cannot afford to give these travellers yet another reason to reduce their spending – or, worse yet, decide not to visit at all. “

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