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Young people still drawn to Australia on Working Holiday Visas

The number of young travellers heading to Australia on Working Holiday Visas increased by 3% in 2011, according to figures released by ‘Destination New South Wales’ at the Australian Youth Tourism Exchange on the Sunshine Coast.

The number of working holiday makers who went to NSW grew by 2.1% alone for the same period. NSW saw a majority of the 241,000 working tourists with 72.5% of the total.

In an effort to make Australia an even more attractive destination for young people, ATEC managing director Felicia Mariani, said ATEC had recently put forth a proposal to the Federal Government to adjust the eligibility settings for the Working Holiday Visa (WHV).

“Australia stands to make significant economic gains through simple adjustments to the eligibility settings for this visa – benefits that would extend throughout Australia and to many sectors of the economy,” Ms Mariani said.

“ATEC is strongly advocating for the extension of the regional classification to the tourism industry – allowing WHV holders to extend their visa by 12 months after completing 88 days of work in a regional area and this has benefits that go beyond attracting more young travellers.”

Ms Mariani said the youth travel market is extremely important to our tourism industry as they spend more than leisure visitors, create jobs, help fill semi-skilled and unskilled positions and contribute to regional economies.

Calls to introduce WHV agreements with more Asian countries.

Speaking at a recent Tourism Conference, Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said that Australia was witnessing a “sizeable shift” in tourism thanks to the fast-growing middle classes across Asia in what is being dubbed ‘the Asian century’.

He said Australia also need to increase the number of working holiday visas (WHV) agreements with Asian countries.

Mr Ferguson said there were 30,000 vacancies in the tourism industry and it was predicted to blow out to 56,000 by 2014.

Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive John Lee said Australia needed to introduce working holidaymaker visa agreements with countries such as the Philippines and China and accept more working holidaymakers from Indonesia.

“We don’t have many agreements with Asian countries,” he said.

Tourism Australia will unveil its next television commercial and the latest stage of it’s There’s Nothing Like Australia campaign in China in June, before rolling out to all 25 countries in 17 languages.

China has become Australia’s most valuable tourism market, growing by almost 20 per cent last year and Mr Ferguson said the “dragon’s share” of marketing dollars was now devoted to it.

Chinese tourists spent $3.5 billion last year and are forecast to spend up to $9 billion by 2020.