Tourism operators will be able to highlight the quality of their products and services with a new Heart Foundation-style tick of approval, as part of a major push to boost the struggling sector.
The T-QUAL Tick, launched by Federal Tourism Minister Martin Ferguson, will enable travelers to identify quality tourism products at a glance.
All tourism operators who receive the tick – from holiday parks to five-star hotels – will appear on a new TripAdvisor micro site while Tourism Australia will promote these operators via other channels.
“Last year, almost half of Australia’s international visitors, and a quarter of our domestic overnight visitors, used the internet to book travel,” Ferguson said.
“That’s why we’re incorporating the T-QUAL Tick into TripAdvisor.”
“It effectively means you can easily recognise what’s a good quality product that’s been through an accreditation process and has met appropriate standards,” Ferguson said.
“It takes us out into households to people thinking about having a holiday, and gives them informed choice with a focus on a quality product.”
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It should be noted that businesses cannot directly apply for the Q-QUAL Tick. They must join, or be a member of, a T-QUAL-endorsed accreditation, rating or certification program.
By default, this membership entitles them to T-QUAL accreditation with no further assessment.
Currently, there are 12,500 Australian tourism products with T-QUAL accreditation via seven existing accreditation schemes, including AAA Tourism and Ecotourism Australia.
However, additional programs are expected to receive the T-QUAL Tick in the coming months.
In a nutshell, T-QUAL businesses have all the required licences and insurances, and commit to a number of standards including risk and environmental management, and customer service.
Tourism Australia will market the T-QUAL Tick to consumers on behalf of the Tourism Quality Council of Australia, which is responsible for T-QUAL accreditation.
It will use a range of different channels to encourage consumers to book products and services that display the symbol, including print and outdoor media, online advertising and social media.
Tourism Australia managing director Andrew McEvoy says it makes sense to highlight quality tourism experiences at the point where people are researching and making their holiday plans, hence the decision to partner with TripAdvisor.
“Word-of-mouth advocacy is incredibly powerful in destination marketing,” McEvoy says.
“The highest quality products will be promoted through the best form of advocacy visitors who have experienced the products.”
“In the past, accreditation schemes have been a lot of hard work without the consumers understanding what they mean.
“But with us and the Australian tourism industry getting behind it, more consumers will look for the tick.”