The federal government is aiming to rid the tourism industry of “shonky operators” with a new accreditation scheme.
Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson said Australian tourism was facing “huge challenges”, including the rising price of oil and an increasing unwillingness of travellers to fly long-haul.
With these challenges in mind, Mr Ferguson said the industry must be aware it was required to supply a quality tourism experience to domestic and international tourists.
“We have got to promote ourselves on the basis of quality products that are also environmentally smart,” he said.
“It’s about sending a message to industry that we expect them to provide a quality product and we will not tolerate shonky operators … it gives the industry a bad name and undermines Australia.”
Mr Ferguson said a steering committee made up of industry representatives and chaired by former Qantas head Margaret Jackson would develop a business plan for an accreditation scheme by the end of this year.
Tourism ministers endorsed the government’s plan to introduce the National Tourism Accreditation Scheme at their council meeting in Melbourne on Wednesday.
“New Zealand has gone down this path to its benefit and we are lagging behind in some states,” Mr Ferguson said.
EcoTourism Australia CEO Stephen Pahl said he “wholeheartedly” supported the proposal.
His organisation provides eco-certificates to operators that prove they are environmentally friendly.
He said there needed to be a consistent approach to any accreditation scheme.
“Australia has failed miserably in the past in that we haven’t provided a significantly consistent standard … the quicker we can consolidate that and offer a united seamless approach … the better,” Mr Pahl told AAP.
Mr Pahl said a big problem had been the different options available, with states providing different brands, rules and standards.
Tourism Alliance Victoria CEO Anthony McIntosh said the plan was “terrific”.
“It’s a really positive step. Accreditation has had a patchy history in recent years,” Mr McIntosh told AAP.
“We’re really hoping … that there’s money set aside to actually market the brand of accreditation.”
Mr McIntosh wants tourists to be able to recognise an accreditation logo and choose between those operators that are accredited, and those that aren’t.
Tourism Australia recently appointed DDB Worldwide to develop a new tourism advertising strategy after the much-publicised failure of the “Where the bloody hell are ya” campaign.
Mr Ferguson said for the next six to eight months, the Baz Luhrmann film Australia would be used to promote tourism while a new campaign was developed.