Australia is set to capitalise on its status as a preferred destination for visitors and working holiday makers, with record interest from overseas tourists. The latest figures from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) statistics show increases of up to almost 30% in visa applications were translating into significant benefits to Australia’s economy.
‘The Australian labour market benefits from increased numbers of tourists and working holiday makers. Despite the high value of the Australian dollar, our strong economy and unique natural and cultural attractions have drawn a record high number of international visitors and working holiday makers,’ said a DIAC spokesman.
In the period from July to December 2012, there were almost two million visitor visas granted, up 5.8% over the same period in 2011, the data shows. Demand from Asia continued to increase, particularly from China and Singapore. Tourism visa applications from China were up 16.5% to 194 204, while applications from Singapore increased 28.7% to 81 364.
At the end of December 2012, there were 401,362 visitor visa holders in Australia, a 9.2% increase compared with the same date in 2011. Tourism from Asia was a particular draw, injecting billions of dollars into the economy every year. ‘We are making it easier than ever for tourists from the Asian region to visit Australia and contribute to our economic and cultural growth, with the progressive expansion of online lodgement this year,’ explained the spokesman.
‘We need to be able to take advantage of the increased tourist markets, and our online visa lodgement system is part of our improved service for visitors,’ he added.
Quote from AustraliaForum.com : “Hope you all are doing well. I want to move to Australia to work, so I’ve been looking for the right kind of visa to apply for. As far as I understood I can’t apply for skilled independent visa, as my job(chef) it’s not in the SOL, nor apply for skilled sponsored visa, as I don’t have a sponsor. Would it be silly to fly to Australia with a tourist visa, then look for a sponsor there and apply for a skilled sponsored visa?”
There was a 23.2% increase in working holiday maker visa programme grants (136,155 grants) compared to the same period last year. This continues the strong growth in the programme during 2011 to 2012 when there was a record 222,992 grants. There were 162,475 working holiday maker visa holders in Australia at December 2012, a 20.5% increase over December 2011.
The United Kingdom continues to supply the largest numbers of working holiday makers with 24,135 grants in the six months to December 2012, followed by Taiwan which increased almost 100% to 17,969. South Korea, Germany and France rounded out the top five countries for working holiday maker visas. Officials pointed out that the expansion in the working holiday maker programme is set to continue with the recent announcement of a new work and holiday arrangement with Uruguay.
Negotiations also began in late 2012 for new work and holiday visa arrangements with the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Poland and the Slovak Republic.