Tourism certification remains a badge of quality

Posted by on 22 July 2014 | Comments

The recent decision by the federal government to abandon the T-QUAL accreditation program has caused confusion within the tourism industry, and in travellers. The decision has raised significant questioning within State and Local governments trying to ‘read’ the federal government’s intent. Is this just a dumping of the previous government’s program or a true stepping away from quality tourism certification programs?

 The government’s true reason is unclear at present but what is clear is that the cessation of T-QUAL does not signify the demise of quality tourism certification programs.

Tourism certification remains an easily recognisable ‘badge of quality’ where travellers can quickly make informed decisions on what experience they choose, it adds value to the tourism business and raises the overall quality of the tourism industry and its businesses.

Travellers are choosing to follow quality. This is demonstrated by close to 70% of all visitors to the Great Barrier Reef choosing to travel with an Eco-certified tourism operator. This statistic follows the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s decision to introduce incentives for tour operators holding Ecotourism Australia’s certification, which has in turn encouraged more operators to join the program who are, in turn, being rewarded with more passengers

In every State and Territory around Australia Park Agencies all reward and recognise tourism operators who attain Eco-certification because these operators demonstrate their commitment to enhancing the visitor’s experience, following environmental principles and engaging with the local community. The Park Agencies see a clear relationship being encouraging eco-certified operators, quality tourism experiences and better protection of the Park’s natural and cultural values.

Ecotourism Australia operates four certification programs that have been adopted by more than 1,500 individual products, tour operators and tour guides in all of Australia’s States and Territories. Our tour operators have chosen to improve their businesses and follow world leading quality systems.

25% of all awards winners at the 2014 Australian Tourism Awards were Tour Operators who held Eco-certification, Respecting Our Culture or Climate Action tourism certification. At the 2014 Australian Tourism Exchange, over 20% of tour operators on display held Ecotourism Australia certification. Considering the fact that Ecotourism Australia’s ECO certification program is only available to tourism businesses operating in the field of nature based tourism; this is a remarkable demonstration of how tourism certification is truly a ‘badge of quality’.

In an age where quality assurance and environmental responsibility have become a vital global trend, it would appear the Government has over reacted and ‘thrown out the baby with the bathwater’. The concept of providing an overarching national standard for quality tourism certification programs remains valid and we expect a new coalition of quality tourism certification programs will emerge. The visitor wants it and the tourism industry needs it.


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