Tourism operators in Tasmania can show their support for the LGBTI community with the country’s first rainbow accreditation for the sector.

Tasmanian tourism minister Scott Bacon announced the new Rainbow Tasmanian Tourism Accreditation program last week, which was developed by the Tourism Industry Council of Tasmania (TICT) with LGBTI community members.

TICT are offering the training to all accredited operators for free until December 30, 2013 which will last for two years.

The standards will be attached to the Australia Tourism Accreditation Program as an add-on module.

Businesses will have to  show their staff have undertaken anti-discrimination training, ensure their business is free from harasment and promote their company as LGBTI-friendly.

“This accreditation program is a fantastic way to send the message to members of the LGBTI community that our state is a great place to visit,” Bacon said.

“It’s a way of telling potential visitors that these tourism operators will treat everyone with respect and in the same, non-discriminatory manner.”

Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby spokesman Rodney Croome welcomed the initiative  but added that a better drawcard for Tasmania would be legislating for same-sex marriage.

“Providing LGBTI tourists with a safe and non-discriminatory visitor experience will benefit our reputation as a tourism destination,” Croome said.

“But if we really want to attract gay visitors to Tasmania we should become the first Australian state to allow same-sex couples to marry.

“According to a study by the University of California conducted in 2012, same-sex couples marrying in Tasmania would spend $96 million over three years on their weddings, and much more besides on their honeymoons.”

Tourism Industry Council Tasmania CEO Luke Martin said the new module was initiated by Rainbow Communities Tasmania, as a way to introduce quality assurance standards for LGBTI visitors to Tasmania.

“For many years Tasmanian tourism operators wishing to be recognised as a ‘gay friendly’ tourism business, have displayed a Rainbow Tasmanian Map as a symbol of this commitment, but with few standards underpinning this brand,” he said.

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