Working Holiday Visa Changes a Tourism Lifeline

Tourism and hospitality businesses in northern and remote Australia struggling with labour and skill shortages and hard hit by COVID-19 restrictions will be important beneficiaries of the changes to the Working Holiday Marker (WHM) program.

Expanding the eligibility of subclass 417 and 462 to allow visa holders to work in tourism and hospitality from today, “signals the immediacy of the crisis that these businesses are facing,” Australian Chamber-Tourism executive chair John Hart said.

“We have been consistently advocating for the program’s reinvigoration, recognising that working holiday makers are critical to the growth and sustainability of regional and remote tourism, hospitality and accommodation businesses.

“We commend the Federal Government and Immigration Minister Alex Hawke on these critical amendments.”

Changes to the program also include:

  • Expanding eligibility for replacement WHM visas for former WHM visa holders who have transitioned to another visa, such as the COVID-19 Pandemic Event visa;
  • Free reapplication to the WHM visa program for anyone who had their WHM visa impacted by the pandemic – such as those who left early or never arrived in Australia;
  • Removal of the six-month cap on WHM employment in the tourism and hospitality sector, allowing workers to continue with the same employer without requesting permission.

“Tourism Australia’s Holiday Here This Year campaign has been successful in driving demand and assisting tourism businesses to activate the domestic market. But when hotels in Central Australia for example can’t take bookings for all their rooms because they don’t have enough staff to service them, then they aren’t able to fully reap the rewards of this great campaign. These changes will help address that problem and are an important development for many tourism and hospitality operators.

“With approximately 30,000 working holidaymakers onshore, this change is crucial in assisting those sectors of the Australian economy that have been hit hardest in the pandemic.

“These changes to the Working Holiday Maker program are a step in the right direction. We look forward to continuing to work with Government to enable working holiday makers in Australia to stay longer, as well as implementing a staged and considered approach to welcoming new arrivals starting with those that have had their visas approved but have not been able to travel here.”

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