Certified Aussie Specialists
The Australian Tourist Commission is one of a number of tourist boards which runs programs to certify travel agents as specialists in tourism to their country. To become a Certified Aussie Specialist, a travel professional is required to master information about the country's geography, culture, tourist highlights, hotels, transportation, tour operators and so on, presented by means of both printed materials and videos. This proficiency must be demonstrated by passing an exam presented by the tourist commission. In Massachusetts, where A Different Path is located, there are currently only about 25-30 travel professionals who have qualified as Certified Aussie Specialists.
There are many advantages to dealing with a Certified Aussie Specialist when planning a trip to Australia. First, obviously, is the expertise which they have demonstrated by completing the training program and passing the exam. Second, in an effort to utilize their marketing dollars more effectively, the tour operators, hotel owners, airlines and so on who deal with Australia often send more information to Certified Aussie Specialists than they do to the travel agent community as a whole. The Australia Tousist Commission itself also regularly supplies Aussie Specialists with comprehensive up-to-date manuals and brochures, opportunities for conferences and familiarization trips to Australia, and special computer bulletin boards where Aussie Specialists can exchange information and ideas.
Unlike travel agents who may only plan one trip a year to Australia, Aussie Specialists have planned lots of Australia (and often New Zealand) trips of all kinds, from escorted tours to completely customized itineraries, at all budget levels. They know which operators are terrific and which ones to avoid. They know about off-the-beaten path destinations like Kangaroo Island, Coober Pedy and the Tiwi Islands. And they're not afraid of Internet-savvy clients who come armed with loads of research. Although some people who like to do their own research and plan their own trips think using an Aussie Specialist would be a waste of their time, in fact, nothing could be farther from the truth! A good Aussie Specialist can work with the itinerary you've already planned and help you get exactly what you want, often for less money than you would pay if you did all of the arranging yourself.
At A Different Path we're experts on planning trips to Australia and New Zealand. The Australia Tourist Commission agrees, and we think you will too!