The Working Holiday Maker Pilot Working Group has been working closely with the Government over several months to ensure the return of working holiday makers to supplement the workforce requirements of these industries.
The announcement of the return of Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) is welcome news for Australian tourism and agricultural businesses, where shortages of labour across the nation have become acute since COVID border lockdowns in March 2020.
The Working Holiday Maker Pilot Working Group, comprising the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), the Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC), the Backpacker and Youth Travel Advisory Panel (BYTAP), the National Farmers Federation (NFF), Qantas and Tourism Australia, has been working closely with the Government over several months to ensure the return of working holiday makers to supplement the workforce requirements of these industries.
“Today’s announcement will put certainty back into the tourism sector's ability to service demand from increased travel,” ATEC Managing Director Peter Shelley said of the announcement.
“With so many tourism businesses either downsizing or closing over the past 20 months, many tourism staff have moved on and as we begin to reopen for domestic and international visitors, there will be significant pressure on service quality and capacity in the industry.”
BYTAP spokesperson Wendi Aylward said. “Youth tourism has cause to celebrate as the return of Working Holiday Makers signals an important first step in our sector’s recovery.
“It offers the certainty we need to rebuild and reopen and Australia’s youth tourism sector will be ready to welcome the first Working Holiday makers, and let the world know we are once again open for business.”
Executive Chair at Australian Chamber – Tourism, John Hart said the announcement was great news ahead of the busy holiday period.
“Working Holiday Makers are not only some of our highest yielding visitors, spending $3.2 Billion a year before COVID, but they make up a substantial part of the very workforce we need right now.
“If we are going to be able to offer Australians the Christmas holiday that deserve this year, we need our backpackers back,” Mr Hart said.
Qantas Chief Customer Officer Stephanie Tully said the return of Working Holiday Makers was another positive step towards rebuilding Australia’s travel and tourism sectors.
“Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a surge in demand for travel internationally and across Australia as states have provided certainty about their re-opening plans.
“Flying to a great Australian destination is on top of a lot of people’s travel wish list right now, and these workers play a critical role in ensuring travellers have a great experience when they get there,” Ms Tully said.
NFF’s CEO Tony Mahar says this is also fantastic news for the farm sector and the regional communities and economies which they support.
“The contribution of working holiday makers to the Australian agricultural industry cannot be overstated. They milk our cows, drive our harvesters, feed our livestock, and pick our fruit and vegetables. Their smiling presence has been sorely missed over the last 20 months.”