A central objective for the operation of Tourism Research Australia (TRA) is the concept of 'professional independence'.
TRA is administratively a Branch within the Tourism Division of Austrade but professionally independent in its public positioning—it aims to maintain a public presence and reputation for analysis based solely on economic and statistical research rather than one influenced by the political positions or policy of the government of the day.
This independence enables TRA to critically examine government policy and to analyse a range of alternative policy options, including some that may not currently be supported by the government at a point in time. It also enables TRA to produce forecasts and other analysis based on a weighing of the empirical and theoretical evidence available, without undue influence by any particular stakeholder.
TRA's professional independence is reflected in the way it operates and adherence to a number of principles:
TRA recruits staff with professional expertise in economics, statistics or related technical and scientific areas to provide a strong analytical base for its research. TRA's research and analysis is underpinned by a rigorous research process that provides a sound basis for its outputs.
TRA maintains a rigorous clearance process for all outputs which helps ensure the integrity and quality of the research as well as developing the 'TRA view' on specific issues. The clearance process includes several layers of professional checking—including formal clearance by the TRA Chief Economist and consultation with the Head of the Tourism Division in Austrade.
TRA publishes research under its own brand. This enables the Government to both benefit from the evidence, data and analysis provided by TRA outputs, but also to stand arms-length from it in a way that would be more difficult to achieve from a solely departmental-branded publication.
TRA does not clear its publications with the Minister responsible for Tourism; advice on release of publications is provided in advance of release to enable the Minister to respond publicly if necessary, but this is provided on a 'for information' basis.
TRA has a presence in the media and does not seek approval from the Minister responsible for Tourism, or elsewhere in Austrade, to talk about its research and analysis in public. The public benefit from TRA's research and analysis is maximised by providing clear, regular and effective communication activities using a range of media types—including presenting at national and regional conferences, use of the electronic and print media, free-availability of its publications (on the internet) and use of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Approved by the Tourism Research Advisory Board (September 2012)