from the Guest Books...

tourism accreditation in australia

Tourism accreditation in Australia centres on the federally administered Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW); a database of accredited tourism businesses used by distributors including Australia.com, trustthetick.com.au, australiatourism.travel, australias.guide, and in WA westernaustralia.com and trailswa.com.au. To be on this database a tourism business needs to be accredited by Star Ratings Australia (SRA) or the Australian Tourism Accreditation Program (ATAP); both of these schemes are now administered by the Australian Tourism Industry Council (ATIC).

star ratings

Star Ratings vs Trip Advisor

SRA's slogan is "Because the accommodation you expect should be the accommodation you get" - we can't disagree with that.

what you expect

Star Ratings Australia are fond of claiming that their ratings are official and independent; that at least sounds pretty good and doesn't seem too much to expect. You might also expect that their rating would give a reasonably reliable indication of the standard of facilities on offer.

what you get

Under SRA's scheme, what you get is accommodation that will have been visited ONCE in the previous THREE YEARS by someone who gave the owner up to TWO WEEKS notice of the inspection, who didn't stay there, or necessarily even see inside the unit you could stay in. They would have been treated like royalty, so couldn't objectively assess ANY of the service or hospitality on offer, or any of the value represented.

The owners would have paid SRA a minimum of $1080 over three years for this single visit; they are SRA's customers and SRA is going to look after them as a priority. SRA's claim that their ratings are independent is clearly false; if they were, such payments would be corrupt (refer last bullet point below).

We've generally had better experiences at non-rated or self-rated establishments than star-rated ones, which we now avoid. Perhaps that is because the star-rated ones are usually bigger with no owners on site; perhaps it is because they don't have to take personal responsibility for their ratings.

Amongst the things we have found at star-rated establishments (4 stars or higher) are:

It is safe to assume that most of these things would be unknown or not detected by anyone who didn't stay there. If you trust in stars, you really need an astrologer.

* Water quality/safety or fire safety is not assessed under SRA criteria.

the australian tourism accreditation program

ATAP is essentially a quality assurance program that offers consumers confidence that tourism operators have commitment to standards of product and service, continuous improvement, and truth in advertising. This is accomplished by accreditation to a defined set of management systems, policies and procedures which are administered and audited by the State-based tourism authorities. Like all quality assurance programs, the concept makes sense but the main beneficiaries tend to be the accreditation agencies/auditors rather than the licensees or consumers.


The ATDW claims as listing benefits "massive" online exposure, comprehensive statistics, and cost effectiveness, on which basis Mumbles became accredited in mid 2015 under the "Trust the Tick" scheme administered by the Tourism Council of WA (TCWA). The reality bore no resembance to the claims:

So much for truth in advertising! Our complaints fell on deaf ears, as neither ATIC, ATDW, or TCWA have any evident procedure for handling or resolving them. Needless to say our tick has gone; all the commitment and the systems remain.


Neither scheme comes anywhere close to delivering on what it promises; it would be nice to see some evidence of the same high standards that they impose on their unwitting subscribers. Tourism consumers are justified in placing more credibility in reviews on Google and sites like Trip Advisor and the major booking agencies; small wonder that ATIC are now incorporating reviews trawled from such sites into their own marketing. It's a bit like tying the "Titanic" to an iceberg to try to keep it afloat.