Horticulture

Visitor profile changing

By Country News

Fruit pickers are increasingly getting younger and coming to Australia from European countries, new Department of Home Affairs data reveals.

Released last week, the data reveals working visa recipients have fallen by 57276 in five years, with 23 per cent less backpackers arriving in the country.

The figures have been in decline for several years now, with 2016-17 also recording slightly reduced figures compared to the previous year, despite more than 191950 tourists arriving in Australia on working holiday visas.

Of those, more than 68 per cent were 25 years old or younger, with high school graduates, university students and those 21 years old or less representing a quarter of all visa recipients.

The United Kingdom continues to be the biggest single contributor of backpackers with 40382 travelling to Australian in the past year, down 14 per cent from 2012-13.

German, French, Taiwanese and South Korean tourists continue to descend on Australia, with a combined 86000 tourists visiting every year from the four countries on average.

Although Hong Kong was a source of more than 11000 working visa recipients in 2013-14, tourists from the country have plummeted 63 per cent in recent years with just 4200 travelling to Australia in the 2016-17 season.

Irish tourists have followed suit, leaving Australia behind for other countries. While almost one in eight working visa recipients hailed from Ireland in 2011-12, now just one in 23 backpackers come from Ireland, with only 8182 visiting Australian last year compared to highs of more than 25800 in 2011-12.

The new figures come as the Goulburn Valley faces a busy period of picking ahead, with a bumper pear crop predicted by Apple and Pear Australia Ltd.

The production of pears is expected to jump 14 per cent across the country compared to last year, with apple production expected to be fairly similar to last year, falling just one per cent.