The announcement in yesterday’s budget of a 21% increase in the cost of a Working Holiday Maker (WHM) visa is a blow to the youth tourism sector, which is still struggling to recover in the wake of the pandemic.
From 1 July 2023, the cost of a visa sub-class 417 (Working Holiday) and visa sub-class 462 (Work & Holiday) to Australia for this reciprocal cultural exchange program that is in place for 47 countries, will rise from $510 to $640.
The Chair of the Backpacker & Youth Tourism Advisory Panel (BYTAP), Wendi Aylward, said this increase will act as an additional barrier for young people thinking of planning the trip of a lifetime to Australia. “It has been a very hard last few years for our sector and we have been pleased to see Working Holiday Makers returning now, however this visa fee increase will deter many of these price-sensitive young travellers.”
Ms Aylward said that this is a double blow to the youth tourism industry, as many of the countries in the program already have caps on the number of visas that can be issued each year (some as low as just 100 and quickly exhausted each year). A temporary 30% increase in these caps on the Work & Holiday 462 visa-subclass has been in place in 2022/23 to help fill critical labour shortages in tourism, hospitality and agriculture across Australia. “With the 30% increase in caps on the Work & Holiday program ending on 30 June 2023, combined with the 21% increase in Working Holiday Maker visa fees from 1 July 2023, effectively our industry will be going backwards at a critical time.”
Modelling undertaken by BYTAP (available on request) shows the impact that just modest increases in the caps would have on the program – and the potential economic benefits that would flow for Australia.
For more information on the visa caps, click here.
For more information on BYTAP, the peak body for the backpacker and youth tourism industry, supported by Youth Tourism NSW (YTNSW), Adventure Queensland (AQ), and Adventure Tourism Victoria (ATV), see www.bytap.org.