Insight – Five ways Working Holiday Makers benefit Australia
14 February 2022
The return of Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) is good news for Australia's visitor economy.
The past is a good pointer to the future and a pre-pandemic survey by Tourism Research Australia may offer insights into a future tourism recovery. The survey points out five important themes about WHMs:
They stay longer
In 2019, the average WHM stayed 149 nights in Australia. Other travellers stayed only 27 nights on average.
WHMs account for 4% of visitors, but 17% of international visitor nights in Australia.
They spend more
Because they stay longer, WHMs also spend more.
In 2019, WHMs spent $2.6 billion in Australia. This is an average of $8,550 each, compared with:
- $2,260 for leisure travellers
- $2,090 for business travellers
- $1,580 for international travellers visiting friends and relatives (VFRs) in Australia.
Other long-stay visitors such as international students also have a high average spend.
They travel more widely
More than 60% of WHMs travel into regional Australia. The most popular regional destinations are:
- tropical north Queensland
- the north coast of New South Wales
- Sunshine Coast.
They do more activities
Australia's visitor economy benefits from WHMs' desire to do things during their stay. Some of the more popular activities include:
- going to festivals (38%)
- taking part in First Nations experiences (25%)
- visiting distilleries and wineries (15%).
Compared with other international visitors, WHMs are also:
- 7 times more likely to take up surfing
- 4 times more likely to go cycling
- 3 times more likely to go snorkelling.
It's not all fun and games, however. Almost 1 in 10 do some study in Australia.
Most of them work
Data shows that WHMs work to fund their travel experience. They spend most of what they earn here.
80% of WHMs work during their time in Australia. 60% work for at least half of their trip.
The most common occupations are:
- farm hand
- service staff in food and hospitality venues
- construction worker.
In 2019, 1 in 3 WHM jobs were outside capital cities and the Gold Coast. This means WHMs helped to redress skills shortages in regional Australia.
Recent research commissioned by Austrade also shows the importance of WHMs to employers. Nine in 10 employers say WHMs are an essential workforce. 75% indicate WHMs provide an economic boost to local regions.