American working holiday makers: now is the time

November 22nd, 2017 | | jobs

At the annual BOA NSW meeting in September, Kristy Carstairs explained the challenge Tourism Australia faces when persuading American youth to come to Australia on a working holiday. “Little appreciation regarding a year of exploring life from a different perspective and personal growth,” read the slide on the screen.

This perception of Americans is painfully familiar to me. I have spent years trying to persuade my fellow American university students to study abroad, with little success. The experience of life in a foreign country wasn’t worth missing a football season.

I agree with TA’s perspective that young Americans must be inspired to leave the states before they can be persuaded to come to Australia. Although still difficult, the current political and economic climate has changed and now is a perfect time to encourage young Americans to take a working holiday, and I’m glad to see the effort Australia is making.


The political climate

The political sentiment in the states makes now a great time to persuade young Americans to leave the country. Barack Obama left office with 77% of American millennials approving of his job performance. Compare that with 21% of young people who approved of Trump’s performance, as of September. The night that Trump was elected, the Canadian immigration office website crashed because of the overwhelming traffic from the US. All those young Americans have a desire to leave, why not upgrade for a place that’s only slightly further away (joking!), but has much better weather (not joking!)?

Americans can afford Australia

For those young Americans interested in a working holiday right now, the numbers definitely add up. For the past two years, the US Dollar has been worth more than $1.25 Australian, making Australia feel more affordable to Americans than in previous years when the currencies were equal. The US unemployment rate is also currently at a ten year low, meaning young Americans can get cashed up before buying that long haul flight. Even if the mood is right to escape to Oz, more importantly, now young Americans can afford it.

They can now extend for a second year

It was only a year ago that the Australian government modified the provisions of the work & holiday visa (subclass 462) to allow holders to apply for a second year. Up until then, Americans were only eligible for a one year working holiday. Even if few Americans take advantage of this offer (only 47 Americans extended during the program’s first six months) the possibilities for an American on working holiday in Australia have never been so vast.

Sending Americans the message

Australia is broadcasting the working holiday message to young Americans on all frequencies. My personal favourite channel is TA’s own Aussie News Today. Americans would much rather watch today’s goofy clip from the Honeybadger than the Donald (Trump). TA’s partnership with Vice “More Than a Vacation” profiled four Americans on a working holiday. To their intended audience, the subtext is “these Americans did it and so can you!” Lastly, with only 40% of Americans holding a valid passport, Qantas wants to remove this obstacle by offering a discount on flights to Australia equivalent to the cost of a US passport. I’d like to see even more Australian brands finding ways to pitch working holidays to Americans.

Personally, I’m doing my part by sharing photos and videos of Australia’s most enviable qualities to my American social network.

The potential positive impact is massive

Moving the needle on America’s acceptance of working holidays will have a huge impact on the Australian tourism industry. Uncle Sam takes third place in visitor spend and fourth place in visitor nights here in Australia, and TA is expecting growth between $4.5 to $5.5 billion by 2020. Americans need more convincing, but now is a great time to convince the 60 million of them, who are the right age, that it’s the perfect time to take a working holiday down under.


2 Responses

  1. And we are doing our bit by attending 45 Gap Year Fairs all around the USA between 6 January and 4 March 2018 If anyone is interested in this I am happy to give details. We have a table booked at every event.
    They start in Philadelphia and finish in San Francisco.
    If Qantas wants to pitch in with an offer like that – many will be on their way.