By JAMES WELLS in Hobart
The chairman of Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA), Tony South, has outlined why accommodation hotels are an important part of the Australian Hotels Association (AHA) at the inaugural Australian Hospitality Conference held in Hobart this week.
This is an edited excerpt from South’s presentation on the opening day of the conference: “TAA, which I have the good fortune to chair, was born less than 12 months ago.
“From time in memoriam, the AHA has had an accommodation division which has represented the interests and concerns of the accommodation sector rather than the pubs. The relationship between these members and AHA has traditionally been one of constructive friction. There have been times that the AHA has been unhappy with the Accommodation Division members and there have been times when the accommodation members have been unhappy with the AHA.
“Twelve months or so ago, the AHA took the initiative to investigate in depth why the dissatisfaction was there among members. AHA exhibited the leadership that was required.
“The consultant chosen for this exercise was Rodger Powell who has been unable to present at the conference today due to a family bereavement. Rodger asked the hard questions and came back to the AHA with a series of recommendations. The AHA to its credit embraced the action and strategy plan, agreed to provide the necessary investment and the TAA was born – without any doubt an affiliate of the AHA.
“A major advantage TAA provides is the ability to tap into the resources of the AHA – the physical and tangible resources as well as the goodwill and its relationships with Government built up over the last 150 years.
“That’s an enormously powerful plus for us to carry in helping develop the accommodation sector of the industry and promote its interests.
“The TAA is unashamedly narrow in focus, representing only the interests of accommodation properties.
“I was appointed chairman early this year. We have held our first couple of meetings and endorsed a five-year strategic plan.
“We have engaged successfully with federal government, and the federal opposition, and made headway on several important issues.
“One of the things that attracted me to the role were my experience living and working in Singapore for 10 years until 2011. I looked at what was happening in Australia during my frequent visits home and I realised we were still worried and talking about many of the same issues as we’d been 15 years prior – the same or similar problems and challenges, and most importantly, government, regardless of the party, still not properly recognising tourism as the economic contributor, the creator of jobs and the generator of economic good we all know it to be. That was very frustrating.
“Hopefully with the TAA, we can continue to educate, co operate and if needed, fight the fights to have the tourism and accommodation sector recognised in its rightful place,” he said.
Tony South is the chairman of Tourism Accommodation Australia and a Director of CAMS (the Confederation of Australian Motorsport). He retired as Chief Development Officer of IHG Asia Pacific in 2011.