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ITSA Fights Back, Forms Consumer CoalitionJune 30, 2010 By: George Dooley
The Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA) has launched TravelersFirst.org, a new coalition representing millions of users of online travel sites that will educate and mobilize those users to take action on important public policy issues like new tourism taxes and policies.
Among the highest priorities for the coalition will be passage of the Internet Travel Tax Fairness Act (ITTFA), federal legislation that would protect online travelers from being taxed twice on each hotel visit they book online— once on the cost of the hotel room and a second time on the service fees for booking the room.
The Internet Travel Tax Fairness Act (ITTFA) would create a federal standard in this area of interstate commerce by:
* Protecting all existing local hotel occupancy taxes
* Allowing states to tax the fees charged by travel intermediaries like travel agents and online travel companies
* Preventing the nation’s 7,000 local tax authorities from creating conflicting and contradictory tax policies in this area
* Ending new litigation on the issue, while allowing ongoing cases to proceed.
In addition to ITTFA, the TravelersFirst.org coalition will work to educate users of online travel sites about other policy issues that make travel more expensive and less convenient, including:
* New and higher tourism taxes on hotels, airlines, car rentals, and travel intermediaries
* Inconsistent state and local tax regulations that can lead to higher costs and less service
* Lack of transparency and/or access to ancillary airline fees
* Local tourism regulations that make travel more difficult or expensive for visitors
* Other pro-consumer travel policies to reduce costs and improve the travel experience
The TravelersFirst.org coalition will be promoted across the websites and through the communications of ITSA member companies including Expedia, Orbitz, Travelocity and their affiliates. It will also work to partner with other organizations representing consumers’ and travelers’ interests.