Signalling extraordinary industry resilience, the Australian Tourism Awards are back in 2021.

The return of the ATAs is a good sign. It means that confidence is returning to the tourism sector across Australia – albeit in small domestic-sized doses.

The 2021 Australian Tourism Award celebrations will shine a light on success and resilience in what has been and continues to be, an incredibly challenging era for tourism worldwide. What better way to share the lived experience than with a glass of bubbles on awards night – a chance for the industry to finally come together and connect.

And while many businesses might be dreading the prospect of revisiting a period of crisis, chaos and change, it’s also an opportunity to reflect on what happened, what worked, what didn’t and move on. If there was ever a time in which to record and document extraordinary events and how you dealt with them, that time is now.

Many operators may not be aware that several changes were made to the 2020 awards program before its cancellation last year. Just in case you missed it, here’s an overview of both the 2020 & 2021 updates:


Firstly, the submission will cover a two-year trading period from July 1st 2019 to June 30th 2021.

Changes include a reduced submission maximum word count of 8000 words, representing 70% of the total score.

Questions will focus on five key areas:

  • COVID-19 Impacts (unscored),
  • Introduction (previously termed Tourism Product),
  • Business Development,
  • Marketing &
  • Customer Experience.
    Note: In 2021, there will be no questions relating to ‘Sustainability’ or ‘Responsible Tourism’.

While the exact criteria questions have yet to be released, they are likely to be modified to reflect the diverse business trading conditions in 2020-21. Businesses can focus on strategies to attract and grow OR strategies that promote recovery and resilience from COVID-19.

In 2021 we see the introduction of two additional judging elements. Businesses will now undergo an external review of their digital assets; website, SEO, social media and other online listings. The digital asset review will comprise 10% of the total score. A new Consumer Rating Score, calculated by ATIC’s preferred company ReviewPro averages customer reviews online. An entrant’s Consumer Rating Score will represent 20% of total marks. There are also several awards categories that are not required to undertake an online review process.

Also in 2021, ATIC will continue with the roll-out of mandatory business standards pre-assessment – a step that is exempt for accredited businesses or AAA star rated accommodation.

While many State and Territory authorities have yet to announce their award program details, most are due to be released by March 2021.

Check the list below for your State or Territory Tourism Awards program:


South Australia:

Northern Territory:






(Photo Credit: Tourism Sunshine Coast – the site for the 2021 ATA gala ceremony)