Australian tourism industry calls for extended visas for working holiday makers

by Ray Clancy on October 6, 2011

in Australia Immigration

Tourism operators rely on working holiday makers

Changes are needed to the immigration programme including allowing working holiday makers to stay an extra year in Australia, it is claimed.

The Australian Tourism Export Council says that allowing people who are working to fund a trip of a lifetime to stay for longer could help with areas where there is a shortage of temporary workers.

It says that incentives could be offered in return for working in regional areas where worker shortages are the most acute.

The tourism industry body told the Tax and Future Jobs Forum in Canberra that changes to the Australian Working Holiday Visa programme can be beneficial.

‘Working holiday makers provide regional tourism operators with an important source of short term, qualified labour and bring language skills and flexibility. Clearly tourism is one industry that could significantly benefit from having greater access to an international workforce,’ said ATEC managing director Felicia Mariani.

‘We have heard a lot about Australia’s two speed economy and the difficulty many industries are facing that are at odds with the strength of our overall economy resulting from the mining boom,’ she explained.

‘It is now crucial that the Federal Government look at ways to support other industries, such as tourism, to get the maximum advantage from Australia’s overall strength and bring forward new opportunities for all,’ she added.

ATEC is also calling for an increase in age limits for working holiday visa applications and allowing working holiday visas to be applied for a second time.

Mariani cited a 2009 Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) report that found that while Australians were reluctant to relocate to regional areas for short term work in the tourism industry, working holiday makers often fill this labour gap.

The current restrictions placed on these workers by their visa arrangements do not allow maximum benefit for Australian industry, she added.

ATEC also used the opportunity of the national tax forum to praise comments made by Trade Minister Craig Emerson this week on the need for raising net migration to Australia to boost economic productivity in areas of need.

‘Dr Emerson’s call for increased permanent and temporary immigration directed to rural and regional areas are welcome news for the tourism industry which has long suffered severe shortages in appropriate, qualified labour,’ Mariani said.

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