Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has expressed interest in expanding the Australian Work and Holiday Visa programme after speaking at a Transport and Tourism Forum in Canberra recently.
‘My department is currently in the process of negotiating new and more liberalised Working Holiday Maker visa arrangements with thirteen new partner countries,’ the Minister said.
‘These include Poland, Mexico, Hungary, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Vietnam, San Marino, the Czech Republic, Israel, Latvia, the Slovak Republic and Andorra. These new countries will provide fresh impetus for growth within the programme itself but also facilitate broader opportunities for tourism engagement.’
The Australian Working Holiday Maker visa programme’s popularity appears to be still growing, with more than 258 000 visas being granted in 2012-13, a 15.8 per cent increase from 2011/12.
Minister Morrison pointed out the economic benefits the programme has for the Australian economy are significant, with holiday-makers tending to spend around $13,218 on average over the course of their stay.
‘Holiday Makers generally tend to spend more than they earn, making a small but important contribution to the creation of Australian jobs,’ he said.
‘This means that the 258 000 Working Holiday arrivals in the last financial year generated more than 16 000 additional Australian jobs.’
The Minister also emphasised that any expansion of the Working Holiday Visa programme would not come at come at the expense of its integrity, and that the goals of the program would be kept in mind throughout.