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As the Australian government prepares to announce the 2016/17 federal budget early next week, the tourism and agricultural industries continue to join forces in a heated battle against the proposal to remove the current tax-free threshold on 1 July 2016 for international working holiday makers. The removal of the tax-free threshold could have serious ramifications on one the world’s largest cultural exchange schemes by deterring young travellers from spending their gap year in Australia and instead turning their sights to rival destinations.

Australia has firmly maintained a top-ranking position as a premier youth travel destination and much credit goes to its highly successful working holiday scheme; a reciprocal cultural exchange framework that has been in place for over four decades.

WYSE Travel Confederation Director General David Chapman says “I empathise with the Australian backpacker industry’s concerns and agree that imposing a 32.5% tax on working holiday makers from the first dollar earned, along with the escalating visa fees, will only compound the decline our Australian colleagues are unfortunately already experiencing.”.

WYSE Travel Confederation held the inaugural WYSE Exchange Australia earlier this month; an international youth travel trade event dedicated to showcasing Australia to international buyers from all over the world.  Mr Chapman further commented “I had the privilege of having candid discussions with many of the Australian operators when I was in Sydney a few weeks ago, and there was certainly grave concern about what the future holds for their businesses if the federal government’s proposal goes through in July.   I urge the Australian government to acknowledge the value of their nation’s working holiday scheme and re-consider this proposed tax policy and hope our Australian colleagues see a win next week.”