Working holidaymakers can be one of many first worldwide customer markets to return to Australia in 2022.
However as international journey slowly resumes and plenty of younger individuals begin enthusiastic about working abroad once more, international competition for this market will be intense. Australia might want to out-compete different locations to convey working holidaymakers again, significantly these from Europe.
There have been greater than 300,000 working holidaymakers in Australia per 12 months earlier than the pandemic. The absence of those staff resulted in a lack of greater than $3.2 billion in customer spending in 2020. It has additionally created critical labour shortfalls, significantly in regional Australia.
With borders reopening, the Australian authorities must rethink its working vacation program. It wants not solely to make it simpler for younger travellers to come back again, but additionally to have a greater understanding of their targets and expectations of a satisfying working vacation expertise.
Working holidaymakers keep longer and spend extra
The working vacation visa program was established in 1975 as a cultural trade initiative. Working holidaymaker visas can be found for younger individuals (largely aged 18 to 30) and usually final for one 12 months, although there could be alternatives to increase this. Australia now has reciprocal agreements with 45 nations.
This system has remained open all through the pandemic to individuals from eligible nations. But, visa purposes declined by an astonishing 99.5 per cent in 2020. Individuals had been free to use for working vacation visas, however the closed borders prevented them from really coming.
Working holidaymakers spend extra and keep longer than some other worldwide customer. On common, they spend $10,400 per trip and stay 149 nights. Compared, different worldwide guests to Australia [spend $5,211 per trip and stay 32 nights, on common.
One-third of working holidaymakers come from the UK, Germany and France. Nevertheless, there’s a rising demand in Asia. In 2019, nearly 29 per cent of working holidaymakers had been from Japan, South Korea and China.
Combining research with a working vacation is especially enticing for younger individuals from Asia. As such, reactivating this market after the pandemic is vital to rebuilding Australia’s worldwide training sector.
In response to Tourism Australia, the preferred jobs for working holidaymakers are waiter, farmhand, building employee and childcare employee. New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland had been probably the most affected by the absence of those guests — the three states accounted for 83 per cent of working holiday jobs in 2019.
However this doesn’t suggest working holidaymakers keep in capital cities. In truth, they disperse extra extensively across the nation than different worldwide guests.
These travellers have been sorely missed in regional Australia, which has suffered from crippling labour shortages in the course of the pandemic. Cairns, Port Douglas and different areas in northern Queensland have been probably the most severely affected.
This 12 months, the Queensland authorities launched the $7.5 million “Work in Paradise” scheme, providing a $1,500 incentive to lure younger Australians to work in tourism and hospitality jobs in regional Queensland.
Extending this program to abroad staff may very well be instrumental in bringing international working holidaymakers again to Queensland as borders reopen.
How Australia can convey them again
As a primary step to restarting this market, the Australian authorities has eliminated the visa software cost for these working holidaymakers who had been beforehand granted a visa however had been unable to come back to Australia due to the pandemic.
They’ve additionally relaxed some visa necessities, similar to permitting working holidaymakers to work for one employer for as much as 12 months (up from six months beforehand). That is geared toward encouraging holidaymakers to take jobs within the tourism and hospitality trade.
Australia and the UK have additionally simply signed a free trade agreement that can prolong the reciprocal working holidaymaker settlement between the nations. This consists of rising the age eligibility from 30 to 35 years and visa period for as much as three years, and having no job-specified work necessities.
However luring working holidaymakers again would require extra than simply loosening the foundations. We have to delve deeper into what motivates these younger individuals to take a working vacation journey, significantly to Australia.
Up to now, these travellers have labored in low-skilled, low-paid jobs. This expertise has additionally been seen as a “hole 12 months” between highschool and college.
However these in Era Z have completely different life aspirations than earlier generations. Many are more and more targeted on kick-starting their careers, and taking a 12 months off to journey overseas could also be much less enticing.
So, for locations like Australia, it is necessary to supply alternatives for younger individuals to make use of their working vacation to achieve vital expertise and expertise for his or her careers, not simply make cash to journey. The Gold Coast-based International Work and Journey Firm, for instance, now presents abroad internships so younger individuals can advance their skilled expertise whereas gaining worldwide journey expertise.
Some backpacker lodging have additionally closed or shifted to different functions in the course of the pandemic. So, one factor native leaders can do is guarantee there may be satisfactory low-cost lodging to assist returning travellers.
The federal government additionally must make it inexpensive and straightforward to journey to Australia. Subsidising airfares to get them right here, making it simpler to seek out job vacancies, and offering low-cost or free transport out to the areas would assist.
Employers additionally want to make sure holidaymakers are well-treated and have an enjoyable work experience. This requires stronger mechanisms to make sure employers are complying with the authorized necessities round honest pay and adequate workplace conditions for these on short-term visas.
Enhancing the working vacation expertise can have long-term advantages for the nation. Analysis reveals that many guests develop a deep emotional attachment and affinity for Australia throughout an extending working vacation keep and return a number of instances all through their lives.
They will develop an understanding of Australian society and our financial and enterprise practices throughout their expertise. As such, they may help construct future commerce and funding alternatives between Australia and different nations.
So, making working vacation journey straightforward, enjoyable and protected isn’t solely important to getting Australia’s tourism trade again on observe — it is vital for the nation’s long-term engagement with the world. We have to make this a precedence in 2022.
Sarah Gardiner is Deputy Director at Griffith Institute for Tourism, Griffith College. This piece first appeared on The Conversation.