Tourism businesses gearing up for the return of Australian visitors from today will be relieved to learn they will also have access to an offshore pool of much-needed job candidates, Tourism Industry Aotearoa says.
Tourism employers around the country are concerned they will not be able to find enough staff to ensure that Australian visitors enjoy high quality experiences, TIA Chief Executive Chris Roberts says.
Staff shortages are being reported in destinations that have been hard hit by the international tourism downturn like Queenstown and Te Anau, but also in the main centres.
Following representations from TIA, Immigration New Zealand has confirmed that the suspension on processing Working Holiday Visas, in place since last year, will be partially lifted from today.
Working Holiday Visas are available to young people, usually aged 18 to 30, and let them travel and work in New Zealand for up to 12 months, or 23 months if they are from the UK or Canada. New Zealand has reciprocal Working Holiday Scheme agreements with 45 countries – 31 are capped and have scheduled opening dates each year, and 14 are uncapped and open throughout the year.
The Government is deferring the opening of the capped schemes because of the ongoing border restrictions.
However, from Monday 19 April, applicants from the 14 uncapped countries who are currently in Australia will be able to apply for a New Zealand Working Holiday Visa. INZ is promising to process applications within the standard timeframes.
The countries concerned are the UK, USA, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.
“This is great news for tourism and hospitality businesses struggling to find additional staff, especially temporary and part-time roles. There may be up to 45,000 young travellers in Australia although we don’t know how many would be from the 14 eligible countries,” Mr Roberts says.
“Tourism employers want to employ Kiwis first, but young visitors on Working Holiday Visas have always played a valuable role in filling the gaps.”