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Federal cap on backpackers raises concerns for regional Western Australia
WYSE News | February 22, 2024

Tourism Council Western Australia urgently urges the Federal Government to reject proposals limiting Working Holiday Maker visas to a mere 12 months, citing the profound negative implications for regional WA and the broader state economy. CEO Evan Hall underscores the urgency, stating, “Backpackers spend on average $5900 each during their trip to WA,” highlighting their substantial economic impact and extended stays compared to other visitors.

Hall continues, “Australia is a big country, and the Federal Government shouldn’t force backpackers out before they’ve had time to work their way across to WA.” He warns that imposing a 12-month cap on backpacker visas would jeopardise the AUD 360 million they inject into WA’s economy annually, with devastating consequences for regional areas. “Backpackers’ contribution extends beyond monetary value; they play a vital role in sustaining the vibrancy of regional tourism towns like Exmouth and Broome”.

Furthermore, Hall points out that backpackers often engage in valuable holiday work experiences, contributing to various sectors such as hospitality, agriculture, and tourism. “Backpackers favor regional tourism towns,” he says. “From working as deckhands on whale shark tours in Exmouth to guiding sunset camel tours in Broome.” These experiences not only enrich their own journeys but also enhance the tourism offerings and local economies of these regions.

The Federal Migration Review’s proposal to limit Working Holiday Maker visas could disrupt this symbiotic relationship, hindering the flow of backpackers who contribute significantly to the dynamism and economic growth of regional WA. As Hall asserts, “Backpackers are not only tourists; they are essential contributors to our local economies and cultural tapestry.” Therefore, it is imperative for the Federal Government to consider the broader ramifications of such policies on regional communities and the tourism sector as a whole.