The Australia Tourism Export Council (ATEC), joined by about 30 prominent youth and backpacker industry bodies, has written a letter to treasurer Wayne Swan, urging the government to rethink their plans to increase the cost of a working holiday visa by almost 30%.
“Analysis undertaken by ATEC this year identified that backpackers – and working holiday-makers in particular – spend considerably more than the average international visitor, staying around 8 months and spending over $13,000 each,” says Peter Ovenden, an ATEC board member.
At the moment, the popular Australian working holiday visa costs AU$280 (around £184), and allows travellers aged between 18 and 30 to live and work in Australia for as long as a year, provided that they don’t work for a single employer for more than six months. Young people from all over the world have taken advantage of this opportunity over the years, and in the 12 months from July 2011 to July 2012, more than 200 000 Australian working holiday visas were granted.
From the 1st of January 2013 however, the Australian government will be raising the cost of the visa to $360 (£237) – effectively a 28% increase.
The decision has been criticised by the tourism industry, as well as those who depend on working holiday-makers for labour, including fruit and vegetable farmers.
Simon Cockburn, a spokesman for AUSVEG (the industry body for vegetable and potato growers) told Radio Australia: “If we lose the backpackers we lose the labour source. If you lose the labour source these crops can stay in the grounds and potentially create a shortfall for consumers.”
The working holiday visa is just one of a number of Australian visas facing steep price increases in 2013. Skilled graduate visas are going up from £207 to £828, while partner visas will increase from £2,010 to around £2,600.
For any advice or information on Australian visas, visit www.1stcontactvisas.com or call 0808 141 2290 to speak to a visa consultant.