Federal cap on backpacker visas to hit regional WA tourism

backpackers

Tourism Council WA is calling on the federal government to scrap plans to limit backpacker visa to 12 months, saying it would hit tourism operators in particularly hard in the regions.

The current proposal would limit Working Holiday Makers visas to 12 months.

Tourism Council WA CEO Evan Hall said the proposal would have a disproportionate impact on WA as most backpackers start their time in Australia on the East Coast.

The latest Tourism Research Australia data revealed backpackers spent $360 million in Western Australia in the year ending September 2023.

“Backpackers spent on average $59,00 each during their trip to WA in the year ending September 2023, more than twice the expenditure of other international visitors to WA,” Hall said.

“Backpackers stay longer and travel further than other visitors to Western Australia.”

Currently, Working Holiday Maker visas can be extended up to three years to give backpackers time to travel throughout regional Australia. Hall said reducing the current option would disproportionately hinder WA.

“Australia is a big country, and the Federal Government shouldn’t force backpackers out of the country before they’ve had time to work their way across to WA,” he said.

Hall said backpackers accounted for 8.2 per cent of international visitors to WA, whereas they only made up 3.1 per cent of visitors to Australia.

“If the Federal Government was to impose a 12-month cap on backpackers, that $360 million would be at risk and it would have a devastating impact on regional Western Australia,” he said.

“Backpackers love to come to WA during peak season and do interesting jobs as part of their holiday.

“Backpackers favour regional tourism towns, from working as deckhands on whaleshark tours in Exmouth to guiding sunset camel tours in Broome.”