Changes in visa regulations for UK backpackers have stirred concerns among outback business proprietors about potential staff shortages during the peak tourist period. Starting July 1, UK backpackers can apply for up to three visas under the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) scheme without fulfilling the three-month "specified work" prerequisite. This modification, a byproduct of the Australia-UK free trade agreement, means UK passport holders won't be mandated to complete the "88 days" of fruit picking and hospitality work.
Matthew Heyes, founder of Backpacker Job Board, views this change as a double-edged sword. He predicts an increase in UK backpackers due to the eased program requirements but fears they might bypass the outback for coastal towns. "The 88-day program was instrumental in directing backpackers to regional Australia, where they contributed not just their labor, but also their spending," he stated.
In 2022-2023, over 38,000 WHM visas were allotted to UK citizens. The visa alteration only pertains to UK travelers.