Sun, Apr 05, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Australian work holidays popular with Taiwanese

VACATION VOCATIONThe number of working holiday visas granted to Taiwanese citizens so far this fiscal year is 2.7 times higher than for the same period last year

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Taiwan is now the eighth-largest recipient of working holiday visas issued by the Australian government, an indication that the holiday option is growing increasingly popular among Taiwanese citizens.

During the fiscal year that ended on June 30 last year, Australia issued a total of 154,148 working holiday visas worldwide, 6,132 of which were issued to Taiwanese applicants, statistics released on Friday by the Australian Commerce and Industry Office’s Visa Services section showed.

With the number of working holiday visas granted to Taiwanese so far this year is 2.7 times higher than the number issued for the same period last year, Australia’s representative office in Taiwan predicted that the total number would exceed 10,000 for this fiscal year.

Taiwan joined Australia’s working holiday program in 2004 and is now one of 18 participants in the program that also includes the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Italy, France, Japan, Malta, South Korea, Hong Kong, Germany, Belgium and Estonia.

Only those aged 18 to 30 are eligible to apply for the special visa that allows the holders to stay up to 12 months in Australia, during which they can undertake incidental employment.

The best known Taiwanese holder of an Australian working holiday visa may be Clare Wang (王秀毓), the Taiwanese woman who earned a wild card slot in the final round of the competition for what is being advertised as “the best job in the world” — caretaker of a group of islands on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The drive was launched by Australia’s Tourism Queensland.

Wang, who obtained the visa last year but did not travel there immediately, departed yesterday for Australia. She will spend a month there preparing for the job’s final selection process to be held from May 3 to May 6.

Wang will compete with 15 other finalists from 14 ­different ­countries for the six-month A$150,000 (US$107,306) contract to work on Hamilton Island. The winner will be granted a business visitor visa for the job.

Kimberly Chien (簡明芬), marketing manager of the Tourism Queensland’s Taiwan office, said the caretaker recruitment drive had successfully raised the interest and curiosity of Taiwanese in the Great Barrier Reef, which is evident from the influx of phone calls requesting information about ways to visit the world’s largest coral reef system.

Chien said, however, that she did not expect any immediate increase in the number of Taiwanese visitors, because there was no direct flight from Taiwan to the area and package tours remained the most popular travel options among Taiwanese.

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