Tourism Australia and the New Zealand Tourism Commission both run programs to certify travel agents as specialists in travel to their countries. These programs include training modules about the countries' geography, cultures, tourist highlights, hotels, transportation, tour operators and so on.
Paula Harness, the owner of MY TRAVEL AGENT, became an Aussie Specialist in 1993 and a Kiwi Specialist in 2005. Not only has she become a Premier Aussie Specialist (the highest level of certification given by Tourism Australia), but she has also sucessfully completed the specialist programs for all of the individual states and territories that offer it.
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She attends each country's tourism convention every other year to keep informed with new products and actually meet representatives from Australia & New Zealand. This gives her direct contact with people in Australia and New Zealand that other travel agents do not have.
Paula has traveled to Australia eight times in the last sixteen years. She has experienced first hand what she sells. Her travels in Australia include all the major cities, such as Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Uluru & Alice Springs, Darwin, Hobart and Launceston.
She has also been to smaller cities or towns, such as Port Douglas, Townsville, Great Ocean Road, Kangaroo Island, Coober Pedy, Kings Canyon, Katherine, Kakadu, Craddle Mountain and Freycient.
Her "road trips" have taken her along the east coast of Queensland and New South Wales, around Tasmania, along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne into and around South Australia and down the Stuart Highway in the Northern Territory. With all of those kilometers in her logbook, she knows the distances and all the points of interest along the way. This experience helps her put together the ideal itinerary for clients. When having her plan your trip, if driving is part of your itinerary, she will provide basic driving instructions and maps of your route.
She has gone wine tasting in four major wine regions, the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, the Yarra Valley in Victoria, the Barossa Valley in South Australia and the Tamar Valley on Tasmania.
She has teed it up and hit it down the fairways (and sometimes in the rough) on golf courses in the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Newcastle and Hunter Valley.
She has experienced the Aboriginal culture in Cairns, Uluru and Kakadu.
She has snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef along with trying SeaWalking (helmet dive). The only Great Barrier Reef island she has been on is Magnetic Island off the coast from Townsville, but she is currently researching for her next trip which will be to experience several of the other islands.
Please keep in mind that Australia is not only a country but also a HUGE continent with a wide variety of activities and experiences to suit any interest you may have. While many like to do their own research on the internet, Premier Aussie Specialists such as Paula know which operators are terrific and which ones to avoid. All hotels are going to say they are the best place to stay. If you already have an itinerary you should still contact Paula, she can help you get exactly what you want, often for less money than you would pay if you did all the arrangements yourself.
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