By James Wilkinson
The Australian Government’s axing of the T-Qual accreditation program has been slammed by the hotel industry.
Speaking exclusively to HM, both the Accommodation Association of Australia (AAoA) and Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) said the axing is “disappointing”.
On June 30, the Australian Government shut down T-Qual following the “conclusion of a tender process that was not able to identify an industry provider who could demonstrate a sustainable and self-funding business model for the program”, according the Austrade in a statement.
“The Government indicated in its pre-election tourism policy that it would transfer responsibility for T-Qual Accreditation to industry through a tender process… a tender process was the best way to test the market to determine if there was an industry provider willing and able to run a sustainable, industry-led program,” Austrade said.
Accommodation Association of Australia CEO Richard Munro said: “This is a disappointing outcome for the industry as a whole given the money and resources expended on establishing the T-Qual program particularly given its aims.
“Now more than ever the industry would benefit from formal and endorsed acknowledgment of professionally run tourism businesses and services in the face of non-compliant, unsafe operations.
“The Association however is supportive of the overall objectives T-Qual was endeavouring to meet and is presently working with Star Ratings Australia to ensure the industry as well as consumers gain the best outcome from that accreditation program.
“The Association also supports specific accreditation programs such as China Ready and Accredited which ensures industry meets the demands and service levels of our fastest growing market – China.
“We will also give consideration to whatever support we may offer to other programs which promote similar quality outcomes for the industry,” he told HM.
Tourism Accommodation Australia Managing Director Rodger Powell is of a similar view.
“While the T-Qual grant scheme undoubtedly had benefits to individual operators, the question has to be asked ‘what about all the other operators in the area who didn’t receive benefits to upgrade their properties or facilities‘? It was fundamentally inequitable,” he told HM.
“TAA’s view is that funds should be invested in infrastructure projects that drive demand for all operators within a region, rather than for just a few individual operators.
“In regards to the termination of the T-Qual accreditation scheme TAA is delighted to see the recent announcements by Star Ratings Australia regarding the re-invigoration of the Star Ratings system to include consumer ratings.
“Market forces exercised via consumer feedback to organisations like Wotif and Trip-Advisor are now far more powerful than accreditation schemes operated by industry groups and much more relied upon by consumers.
“In addition, with most Australian hotels now owned, operated or aligned with major national and international hotel brands consumers know that they can rely on well understood brand standards.
“TAA calls on Minister Robb to ensure that the T-Qual systems savings go into the Tourism Australia marketing budget where they will generate a guaranteed return for all Australian tourism and hospitality businesses,” he told HM.
Star Ratings Australia General Manager, Damien Hanger, said the axing of T-Qual would not affect the Star Rating scheme.
“Irrespective of Austrade’s decision, Stars will continue to support accommodation operators committed to improving our competitive advantage through quality tourism experiences,” he said.
Austrade said it was important to note “it is only the T-Qual framework that is being wound up, not the endorsed quality assurance programs themselves… consumers will continue to be assured and guided on quality standards by making product choices through many industry-based quality assurance schemes operating across the country”.