Local News

Proposal to Bring Backpackers Back to Regions

backpacker fruit picker Photo Apple and Pear Australia Ltd Flickr

Following a sharp drop in the number of young international backpackers in regional towns, farmers and tourism operators have urged the Federal Government to consider travel exemptions.

National Farmers' Federation chief Tony Mahar and Backpacker and Youth Tourism Advisory Panel representative Wendi Aylward have written to the Federal Government with a proposal for a tiered, coronavirus-safe plan.

All backpackers would be tested for COVID-19 before leaving their home country and would still be required to quarantine for two weeks.

Selected sponsor agencies specialising in youth travel, with a focus on farm work and au pairs, would be involved.

As domestic border restrictions ease and more international travel bubbles are created, the rules would then be relaxed and the program extended.

The final stage in the proposal would continue quarantine and testing requirements but would allow backpackers to travel more freely and independently with work arranged upon arrival.

Typically 130,000 international workers a year fill farm jobs; a number which has dropped by 50,000 since travel restrictions started.

Photo Apple and Pear Australia Ltd, Flickr