After years of delays and closures, international travel is finally looking like it’s back for good (touch wood, obvs). Australia, which has been particularly strict with international visitors throughout the pandemic, has announced that it now wants to lure some of them back.
The Australian government has revealed a new visa-refund scheme to help reboot its travel industry. As of today (January 19), both international students and working holidaymakers – otherwise known as backpackers – will be able to claim back the cost of their visa.
Which is damn great news, if you ask us. Australian visas are notoriously expensive, but the new measures will mean that the A$630 (£333, $455) student visa and A$495 (£262, $358) backpacker visa will both be reimbursed.
The new policy will run for eight weeks for students and 12 weeks for working holidaymakers. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, as many as 56,000 international students and 24,000 backpackers are expected to make the most of the scheme over the next couple of months.
The purpose of the scheme is to revive areas of the Australian economy that rely on lower-skilled international workers. Agricultural industries (notably fruit-picking) and supermarkets are particularly in need of workers, though Aussie PM Scott Morrison is also welcoming anyone trained in healthcare or elderly care.
Some groups of travellers have been allowed to travel to Australia since December, provided they are fully vaccinated. This new policy is different though – actively encouraging more travel rather than just reducing restrictions. Hopefully plenty more countries around the world follow suit.
In short, your Aussie travel dreams are back on: you could be trekking across the outback or nerding it up in one of Oz’s world-leading academic institutions in no time at all.