Australia is set to capitalise on its status as a preferred destination for visitors and working holiday makers (WHMs), 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 WHM. 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.
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 WHM visa holders in Australia at December 2012, a 20.5% increase over December 2011.
The United Kingdom continues to supply the largest numbers of WHMs 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 WHM visas. Officials pointed out that the expansion in the WHM 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.
Courtesy of the Australia Forum
WHM visas (including Working Holiday visas –SC 417 and Work and Holiday SC 462 depending upon the particular country) are an excellent opportunity to visit Australia to check the place out and to work to supplement your spending money whilst here. It is also a great way to investigate longer term employment opportunities with WHMs having a period of up to 6 months with a potential employer sponsor during the course of the 12 month visa period to feel each other out. WHMs have the opportunity to gain an extension the initial WHM visa by working in designated rural activity for 3 months to help out our rural or regional employers.
WHM should however bear in mind that it is crucial to keep strict records of your 6 month work period (6 calendar months or separate periods of employment with the same employer adding up to that period) because DIAC will examine this issue as it is the main visa condition of the WHM. WHMs should also be very careful to avoid any dodgy rural work (cash for evidence) arrangements to satisfy the 3 month rural work requirement for a second WHM visa. DIAC is aware of fraudulent practices in the farming community, and you wouldn’t want to be sent home early! There is no shortage of legitimate farming or rural employers