The Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) has announced the annual Backpacker & Youth Industry Conference is being held on the Sunshine Coast on 1st May, 2012 at the Novotel Twin Waters Resort. This will be another great tourism event for the Sunshine Coast.
The Sunshine Coast conference will feature speakers who will look at issues including aviation access and the new opportunities offered by the fast growing China market and its impact on the youth tourism, the working holiday maker visa and other topical issues affecting the market.
ATEC have previously announced new research commissioned by themselves indicates changes to the Woking Holiday 417 Visa program have the capacity to increase annual GDP by over $85 million with the potential of up to a $700 million boost over a 10 year period.
At present working holiday visa makers under the 417 program which includes the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan and United Kingdom can obtain a 12 month work visa for 18 to 30 year olds. Also a second visa is available to applicants who have completed three months of specified work in regional Australia while on your first Working Holiday (417) visa. At present specified work includes plant and animal cultivation, fishing and pearling, tree farming and felling, mining and construction.
ATEC provide some interesting figures regarding the benefits of adding the tourism industry to this list of specified work and feel a larger uptake of the 2nd working visa would be seen. I would strongly agree with this information. However I am sure the affect on the farming sector would be significant in that a backpacker would rather work as a waiter or barperson for 3 months to obtain a 2nd 417 rather than working hard on a farm picking fruit? The agriculture sector at present is heavily really on itinerant workers to get food into our supermarkets and exported abroad. However I do not think it would be a bad thing to utilise 417 visa holders to fill short term skills gaps and make it easier for proven skilled workers to move onto further visa programs such as the 457, Employer Sponsored Migration Scheme and Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme.
Following ATEC’s commissioned research they have made a submission to the Federal Government to make five key policy adjustments to the Working Holiday (WHV) 417 visa program;
Ms Mariani said the Position Paper, The Importance of the Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417), offered the government some valuable and realistic policy change options including:
- Employment for 88 days in ‘tourism and hospitality’ in regional Australia be included as part of the 12 month extension program for the Second WHV 417;
- The costs and financial requirements of applying for WHM program visas be held constant or reduced;
- The qualifying age range be increased from 18-30 up to 35 years in line with other countries;
- Multiple visa applications be permitted, one between 18-25 years of age and a second one from 26-30/35 years;
- Better engagement
Ms Mariani said the proposed changes would have significant benefits for regional Australia which has a greater reliance on tourism generated revenue than metropolitan areas.
“Backpackers are keen to work in the hospitality industry and are more likely to take short-term and seasonal work in regional areas where this kind of labour force is most needed and where employers have struggled to find an adequate workforce. “We also know that for every hundred travelers in Australia under this visa category, 6.3 full time equivalent jobs are created in the wider economy which equates to almost 12,000 full-time-equivalent jobs across the country.”
ATEC’s position paper, The Importance of the Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) is available here.
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