ASTA Extends Executive Terms, Wants Cuba Ban Lifted


ASTA President Chris Russo

In an unusual move, the American Society of Travel Agent's (ASTA) Board of Directors has extended, for one year only, the terms of the current Executive Committee— President and Chair Chris Russo, Vice President and Secretary Hope Wallace, Treasurer Nina Meyer and Corporate Advisory Council (CAC) Member-at-Large Ellen Bettridge— for a second, single year term.

The action was taken to assure continuity of ASTA’s management while a new CEO and new CFO are retained, a process that likely will take many months, ASTA said. ASTA’s CEO Bill Maloney resigned earlier this year.

The Board, through an interim, one-time amendment to ASTA’s bylaws, waived applicable term limits and advanced the date of the election of the Executive Committee from the September 2010 THETRADESHOW to the Istanbul meeting.

“We currently find ourselves in a position where we have the chance to make significant and positive changes in the way ASTA is structured and run, changes that will make ASTA more efficient and better able to provide for its members,” ASTA said in a statement. “But in order to make those changes and ensure that ASTA continues in its current positive and forward path, the Board felt strongly that continuity in leadership was necessary. Under the bylaws, the Board elects its own leadership and there was complete agreement that this temporary step was in the best interests of the Society.”

Former CEO William Maloney resigned in March

To facilitate the Board’s ongoing responsibilities, it was decided that the upcoming meeting in August, which was originally scheduled to be held via web conference, would be a face-to-face meeting held in conjunction with THETRADESHOW.

ASTA’s Board also voted unanimously to re-engage through staff in active support of lifting the current ban on U.S. citizen travel to Cuba. This action is in accord with ASTA’s longstanding policy in favor of freedom of travel— independent of political considerations and under which individuals, not the government, make the decision where and when to travel.

ASTA said this position is in accord with the majority of public opinion polls on the subject, including a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll which found that 64 percent of Americans think the U.S. should lift the ban.

The Board also voted to merge ASTA’s Hong Kong Chapter into the China Chapter, effective immediately. Additionally, ASTA Treasurer Nina Meyer, was appointed to fill a vacant position on the Board of the National Association of Career Travel Agents, (NACTA) until a new CEO is hired for ASTA.

The Board met in Istanbul, where ASTA’s senior staff provided an overview of the current travel agency marketplace and potential for membership growth, future revenue earning possibilities and the ASTA’s consumer awareness efforts.



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