New Australian visa for crews of luxury yachts

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The Australian government will be providing a new visa for crews of luxury yachts, otherwise known as super-yachts, in an attempt to boost the growing super-yacht industry, according to Immigration Minister Chris Evans.

Evans said the new multiple-entry visa will allow foreign crews to work in Australia for up to 12 months on commercial or privately owned super-yachts.

The new visa was announced in response to an election commitment of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's government to assist tourism in areas such as Queensland's Great Barrier Reef region.

"The superyacht industry is a growing niche market that is an integral part of Queensland's economic and regional development," said Evans. "Until now, there has not been an appropriate visa to allow the crews to work on a commercially chartered superyacht in Australia and this has restricted the growth in this industry."

According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), existing visas such as the new Maritime Crew Visa and Business Long Stay (457) visas do not adequately cover super-yacht crews staying in Australia.

The new visa is expected to come into effect in October of 2008. Until then, DIAC will make temporary arrangements from 01 May 2008 so that super-yacht crews can use the Business Short Stay (456) visa.

The 456 visa is normally only available for people arriving by air and staying for less than three months.

The Australian government is eager to boost its tourism industry. Currently, the super-yacht industry contributes AUD $150 million each year to the Australian economy but that number is expected to grow to AUD $500 million over the next five years.