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How bloody well accredited are you?

Tourist industries in most states have collaborated to create a national tourism accreditation portal which eases the process of tourist businesses becoming certified.
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Written by Suzanne Tindal on

Tourist industries in most states have collaborated to create a national accreditation portal designed to ease the process of a tourist business becoming certified.

Previously, to gain accreditation a tourism business was required to fill out paper-based forms, which relied on accreditation bodies to take it on faith that required documents, such as a marketing plan, had been created. To check whether they had, the body would need to physically visit the company and inspect its documents manually.

Now the necessary documentation is uploaded to the system, increasing efficiency, speed and reliability. Applicants also have access to relevant information to help their accreditation.

The portal was developed by the University of Ballarat's Centre for eCommerce and Communications (CeCC) from a Victorian pilot that ran in 2004. After the pilot, tourism bodies from other states donated money and resources to develop a national platform. The Northern Territory values its investment at AU$16,000.

The portal requires potential operators to prove they have basic skills, such as customer service, and have carried out necessary activities — for example taking out insurance and writing a business plan.

NSW and Queensland miss out?
NSW and Queensland are the only states not involved. According to Ken Corbett, NSW Tourism Council Industry board member, policy has to come before technology in this instance, as NSW and Queensland don't have an accreditation scheme yet. "NSW is still, along with Queensland, working through the whole issue of accreditation."

The sheer number of tourism operators in the two states is making that difficult, he said. "Queensland and NSW combined would be many times greater than the total country in terms of products and suppliers."

The hardest part of setting up the portal has been finding common ground, said Helen Thompson, director of the CeCC. "All these accreditation providers and programs evolved over a long period of time, they didn't have consistency."

All states share access to the same base system infrastructure, which uses PHP, mySQL and Apache, hosted on a dual quad-core Zeon server running freeBSD. The server is co-located in the University of Ballarat's Technology Park datacentre.

The individual states are each launching their front end when they are ready. Northern Territory went live last week. Plans for a national launch are still being confirmed.

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