The Accommodation Association of Australia (AAA) was officially launched by the Minister Assisting on Tourism, Senator Nick Sherry, in Sydney today (Feb 15), ending months of speculation about what the former Hotel, Motel and Accommodation Association (HMAA) would be called.

With the backing of industry heavyweights Accor, Constellation, IHG, Mantra, Mirvac, Toga and Quest, the AAA is aiming to finally unify the nation’s hotel sector.

“Now, more than ever, Australian hotels, motels, B&Bs, serviced apartments, timeshares, backpacker establishments and tourist parks need to pull together with a focus and direction that will allow them to grow and flourish,” said AAA President Garry Crockett.

AAA (and former HMAA) Chief Executive Officer, Lorraine Duffy, said the launch of the accommodation industry’s consolidation had come about because of the need to strengthen service levels and enhance advocacy.

“We are recruiting extra staff, moving into larger premises and developing a range of policy papers that will give the industry a single vision, voice and focus across all levels of government,” she said.

“The formation of the Accommodation Association of Australia is a new dawn for Australia’s accommodation industry.”

However, following the AHA Accommodation Division’s rebranding to Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) yesterday, some industry insiders are suggesting that unification is now further away than ever.

“The divide between the two is organisations really is bigger than ever,” one hotelier, who wished not to be named, told SpiceNews. “What both organisations need to do is all sit down and find a way to unify the entire accommodation industry.

“Having some properties in the AAA and others in the TAA isn’t going to help anyone… but there is faith that the strengthening of the former HMAA, which includes some hotels that aren’t members of either group, could lead to perhaps the strongest lobby group the industry has ever seen.

“Many out there have also been waiting to see what the AHA was going to do, so it will be interesting to see which way some of the unaligned hotels swing and what the outcome of that is,” the hotelier said.

A number of chains and major independent hotels that are yet to sign up with either association are expected to announce their alignment in the coming weeks.