Australia's borders opening to international students, skilled workers and working holiday makers won't be felt in the south-west until at least mid-2022.
The nation's borders opened to double-vaxxed international workers on December 15 but it's unlikely to address the region's significant skill shortages in the short-term.
United Dairyfarmers of Victoria (UDV) Wannon vice president Oonagh Kilpatrick said the border opening was "absolutely fabulous".
"International backpackers will look to come back to Australia which will benefit agriculture right across the board because we have a vast number of positions available," Ms Kilpatrick said.
She said UK and European agriculture students would complete their degrees in June but wouldn't reach our shores until September, which was when she's expecting at least nine graduates from Dublin. She said she would have no trouble placing them on local farms.
Deakin University Warrnambool campus director Alistair McCosh said international students were critical to the campus, and attracting and rebuilding student numbers would be a continued focus.
He said the timing of the opening would delay new arrivals and it would be a "slow return" at both the Warrnambool campus and nationally.
"A lot of students make their decisions in July or August when they finish their year and start preparing, saving their money or getting their visas in place," he said. "Those who are already enrolled, you'll see them coming back but new enrolments will take some time.
"I think we will start to see some international students in trimester two 2022 but hopefully 2023 will see us returning to some real normality to our numbers," he said. "We're certainly back in the market as a result of the guidelines being opened up."
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Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment and Member for Wannon Dan Tehan said "demand to travel to Australia has not diminished".
"The return of skilled and student visas and international tourists from Japan and South Korea, joining tourists from New Zealand and Singapore, will have a positive impact on our economy and help with existing labour shortages in our region," Mr Tehan said.
Mr Tehan said the recent variation to the Great South Coast Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA) to include additional health, aged care, childcare, and mariculture jobs would enable businesses to source international workers.
He said while the "first priority" was to fill jobs with Australian workers, the immigration system could play an important role in helping address regional skills gaps.
Warrnambool's Midfield Meats, which has a large international workforce, was contacted but declined to comment.
Lady Bay Resort general manager Lydia Kippe said she was "looking for long-term staff, not just seasonal workers" and the change didn't really affect the business.
The Hub co-owner Dylan Nelson said the border opening wouldn't make a difference to staffing levels at his Port Fairy café.
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