In A First, Australia To Offer ‘Bagpacker Visa’ To Indians; Expert Suggests Reciprocal Measure

| Updated: 06 April, 2022 3:33 pm IST
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NEW DELHI: As a part of the recently-signed India-Australia Economic Cooperation and Trade Agreement (IndAus ECTA), the Australian government has announced to provide a working holiday visa to Indian youths.

Under the initiative, Indians in the age group of 18-30 years will be allowed to holiday in Australia while working and earning money within two years, with a cap of 1,000 youngsters in a year.

“This is expected to contribute to both workforce requirements and to boost tourism to support our post-COVID recovery,” a statement from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s office said.

As per the Australian government, the working holiday programme is a cultural exchange programme which allows young tourists to earn money while travelling.

The Austrlian government provides Work and Holiday visa to 26 countries including China and USA. This visa requires specific education qualification and certain level of English language proficiency.

Speaking to Australian radio 2GB, Dan Trehan, Australian Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment said, “So Indian backpackers will be coming here and there is 1000 places for them so that’s wonderful also, for making sure that we can continue to build the strong tourism relationship that we have with India.”

“It was our fastest growing tourism market as we went into the pandemic. Obviously, the Chinese were the largest market. We don’t know what’s going to happen there because of the zero covid policy. So, the Chinese aren’t traveling. So once again reestablishing India as a fast-growing tourism market is going to be an absolute key and that’s why the thousand spots for Indian backpackers is another significant win in this deal,” he said.

The Australian Trade Minister and Indian Commerce Minister Piyush Goyal signed the IndAus ECTA deal on Saturday. The agreement also encourages India to initiate a similar visa programme and offer the Australian youth a similar facility.

New-Delhi experts have also opined that the government of India should also offer a similar visa to Australians to boost tourism.

Speaking to The New Indian, Harsh V Pant, an acclaimed foreign policy analyst, said, “India has been trying to get its tourism sector and tourism regime user friendly. This is something India should seriously consider because Australia is a friendly country. Despite the relations with Australia improving over a few years, tourism (from Australia to India) is very low.”

“Australians don’t consider (India) as a tourist destiny,” he said, adding, “India, Australia relations are developing quite rapidly. This is an indication of how people-to-people ties drive this relationship and explains the why the visa is announced,” Pant added.

If India can reciprocate, the perception will be changed bringing more Australians to India, Pant, a Professor of International Relations at King’s India Institute and King’s College, London, stated.

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