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|Legal status||Trading corporation, directors profit from payments but members are not entitled to a share of profits or assets|
|Purpose||Provision of travel accommodation and travel services|
YHA Ltd, operating as YHA Australia, is a trading corporation providing travel accommodation and travel services in Australia. It is a member organisation of Hostelling International. YHA Australia is the largest provider of backpacker accommodation in the Australia with more than 70 accommodation facilities located across every Australian state and territory ranging from large accommodation in cities to small hostels.
YHA Australia is a management and director controlled corporation with managers and directors controlling the selection of successive directors and directors can appoint at least one-third of their number without election. Directors may profit from payments but members are not entitled to a share of profits or assets. Profits are not necessarily spent or re-invested in the network of hostels or on the provision of accommodation and services to members.
In recent decades, the organisation changed focus and closed many hostels in rural areas and concentrated on providing travel accommodation in major tourist destinations, particularly large accommodation in metropolitan areas and hostels coastal cities and towns where accommodation was already readily supplied. While still using the name YHA (Youth Hostels Association), the organisation now provides accommodation to travellers regardless of age. At the same time, the type of accommodation provided has changed from hostel to a broad mix including hotel-style rooms and suites and self-contained accommodation.
YHA Australia's current mission statement is: "To provide opportunity for all, but especially young people for education by personal development, fostering friendship and bringing about a better understanding of others and the world around them".
The YHA 'house and tree' trademark symbol originates from the first Youth Hostelling signs in Europe in 1934. The three messages used in the green Australian logo are the tree representing the environment, the house representing shelter and the open door representing just that, a welcoming open door.
For the history of Youth Hostelling as a movement see Origins of youth hostelling.
Youth Hostelling began in Australia, before the formation of committees and associations to promote youth hostelling, with encouragement of youths to travel and ad hoc efforts to provide accommodation for travelling youths. The first Youth Hostel Association formed in Australia was YHA Victoria, formed in 1939 Melbourne, followed by YHA New South Wales (1942), YHA South Australia (1949), YHA Tasmania (1951), YHA Western Australia (1951), YHA Queensland (1962) and YHA Northern Territory (1976).
In 1947, the state organisations formed the Australian YHA as a federated body to allow Australia to be represented in the International Youth Hostelling Federation (the original name for Hostelling International).
YHA NSW Inc converted to YHA NSW Ltd in 2002. From 2007, a series of mergers consolidated the state bodies into one organisation. YHA NSW Ltd already operated in the Australian Capital Territory and it merged with YHA Northern Territory in 2007. YHA NSW Ltd changed it name to YHA Ltd. YHA Ltd merged with YHA Queensland on 1 January 2010, then YHA Victoria in 2012 and YHA South Australia in 2014. The national body, the Australian YHA, changed its name to Hostelling International Australia and then merged into YHA Ltd in 2016. YHA Tasmania merged into YHA Ltd on 1 January 2017, and finally YHA Western Australia merged on 1 September 2017, completing YHA's 10-year journey towards becoming one national entity in Australia.
Some of the state YHA bodies had operated as charities under state laws requiring hostels and other assets to remain in the names of the state bodies and be managed by state-based management committees.
As a not-for-profit organisation, every dollar YHA Australia earns is re-invested in the network of hostels.
Fremantle Prison YHA is located in the World Heritage listed 19th century former prison's women's wing. Railway Square YHA is situated on the disused 'Platform Zero' of Sydney's Central Station, with replica rail carriages providing multi-share rooms and the old parcels sorting shed re-purposed into the hostel's main building. Newcastle Beach YHA is a converted 'gentleman's club' founded in 1885, and Blue Mountains YHA is a well preserved art deco building that used to be the home of the Wentworth Cabaret, featuring the oldest sprung timber dance floor in the Southern Hemisphere.
YHA Australia states it is committed to reducing its impact on the environment and raising awareness of the benefits of low-impact travel. YHA's Sustainable Hostels Fund – which encourages guests to donate $1 when they book a stay online that YHA then matches dollar for dollar – has helped install solar hot water systems at Adelaide Central, Perth City, Byron Bay, Cairns Central, Glebe Point, Pittwater, Grampians Eco Lodge and Melbourne Metro, as well as solar power in Alice Springs, which generates as much as half of that hostel’s energy needs. The 145 solar cells installed on Perth City’s rooftop in 2014 saves more than 42 tonnes of carbon emissions a year.
In 2016, Sydney Harbour YHA installed a 30kW photovoltaic solar system to help power the hostel, 50% bankrolled by the Sustainable Hostels Fund. The solar panels saved almost four tonnes of carbon missions within a month of being switched on in October. Railway Square YHA followed suit in 2017, installing a 62kW solar PV system and a solar-boosted hot water system.
YHA-owned hostels stopped selling disposable water bottles in 2014, instead encouraging guests to purchase refillable bottles at reception. Some YHA hostels feature rainwater tanks, on-site vegetable gardens and composters, bike rental, swap shelves, low-energy lightbulbs/LEDs, and water-saving bathroom devices to promote sustainable travel.
Sydney Central YHA and Sydney Harbour YHA have won the 'Best Backpacker Accommodation' Award at the Australian Tourism Awards. Adelaide Central YHA has won 'Best Backpacker Accommodation' in South Australia; Alice Springs YHA has won 'Best Backpacker Accommodation' in the Northern Territory; Brisbane City YHA and Cairns Central YHA have won 'Best Backpacker Accommodation' in Queensland; Melbourne Metro YHA has won 'Best Backpacker Accommodation' in Victoria; Perth City YHA has won 'Best Backpacker Accommodation' in Western Australia, and Thredbo YHA has won 'Best Backpacker Accommodation' in the Canberra & Capital Region awards.
- John McCulloch (May 1992). "The Youth Hostels Association: Precursors and contemporary achievements" (pdf). The Journal of Tourism Studies. Australia: James Cook University. 3 (1): 22–27. Retrieved 2009-04-04.
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