Regional areas could lose out from the federal government’s decision to increase the cost of working holidaymaker visas by 28 per cent in the mid-year economic fiscal outlook (MYEFO), according to peak national body, Tourism & Transport Forum (TTF).
From January 1, 2013, the cost of a working holidaymaker visa will go up from $280 to around $360 – a 28 per cent increase.
TTF chief executive John Lee said the hike will have an impact.
‘Backpackers vote with their feet and if we keep raising the cost of coming to Australia, we risk pricing ourselves out of the market.
‘It’s wrong to assume people will keep coming regardless of cost – instead of coming to Australia as a working holidaymaker they will go somewhere else.
‘The government claims that this increase will have a marginal impact, but that is where you grow your market share – at the margins.
‘Each fee increase is less money backpackers have to spend once they arrive, which means they visit fewer regional towns as they travel around Australia.
‘And let’s not forget, people applying for working holidaymaker visas have to prove they have $5,000 Australian and they must have a return plane ticket, so they’ve already made a massive commitment.
‘The strong Australian dollar makes a difference too, with a UK backpacker now having to save over £3,200 pounds, against £2,000 five years ago, while Europeans and Americans have to save 35 per cent more.
‘Why do we want to make it even more difficult for them?’