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Australian Industry welcomes US backpacker proposal

Australian Industry welcomes US backpacker proposal ( News that a reciprocal work and holiday visa for young Americans and Australians may soon be introduced was fantastic for the backpacker industry a peak tourism body has said.

The Australian Tourism Export Council was responding to news reports today that the announcement of a work and holiday style visa between the two countries was imminent.

ATEC Managing Director, Matthew Hingerty said ATEC, through its Backpacker Tourism Advisory Panel, had been lobbying for the introduction of such a visa for some time.

”ATEC has been working closely with the Department of Immigration and its Tourism Visa Advisory Group on this initiative so the news that the visa may soon be confirmed is very welcome,” Mr Hingerty said.

“Backpackers are one of Australia’s key markets with more than half a million visiting Australia in the year to March 2007 spending $2.8 billion dollars*.

“Not only do backpackers travel widely and spend big over a long period, they help fill crucial labour shortages, particularly in regional areas.”

Mr Hingerty said the news of the potential visa would also be a boon for Qantas and Virgin Blue as they looked at expanding their Pacific services.

Currently the UK is Australia’s largest backpacker market with 128,000 young Brits spending over six million nights in Australia during the past year.

“Australia has always been top of mind on Americans’ must visit list and the opportunity for young Americans to spend longer in Australia and supplement their travel costs with work would have multiple benefits,” he said.

“In addition to helping fill crucial labour gaps, the new visa, once it is official and begins to be taken up, will further strengthen ties between our two countries by building a new generation of Americans who have developed a first-hand love and understanding of Australia.

“This will have huge benefit for us as they return home to become the leaders of tomorrow and bring their friends and families back to Australia on future visits.”

Mr Hingerty said the Australian tourism industry looked forward to the official confirmation of the new visa.

* Tourism Research Australia: International Visitor Survey, March Quarter, 2007 Kerri Anderson Tower 2, Level 18, 201 Sussex Street Darling Park, Sydney NSW 2000 National Media & Communications Manager Email: Direct: (02) 8262 5501 Mobile: Reception: 0407 379 362 (02) 8262 5500 Fax: (02) 9268 0457

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