ASTA Showcases 2014 "Advocacy Successes"

washington dcThe American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) has outlined what it perceives as its "Top Successes" for travel agent advocacy in 2014.

In a press release, Zane Kerby, ASTA's president and CEO, said: “ASTA works tirelessly to protect the interests of its members and travel agents across the country before the U.S. Congress, the White House, federal agencies, all 50 state legislatures and even county and municipal governments."

Kerby added that with the support of its members, ASTA is able to leverage the strengths of the association -- grassroots advocacy, face-to-face lobbying before members of Congress and regulators, and ASTAPAC – to ensure that the retail distribution channel remains strong

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RELATED STORY: Back in May, ASTA talked about it legislative agenda. Agents can read that piece at www.travelagentcentral.com/associations/asta-takes-legislative-priorities-capital-hill-46079

In today's press release outlining its advocacy successes, ASTA listed these highlights:

White House Meeting: ASTA secured a first-ever meeting in the White House to brief President Obama’s advisors face-to-face on the value of the travel agency channel to both consumers and the small business-driven national economy.

IATA NDC: The association worked collaboratively with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Department of Transportation (DOT) and other aviation stakeholders to ensure that the DOT’s approval of IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) initiative was subject to a number of consumer protection conditions designed to protect competition and consumer privacy.

Transparent Airfares Act: ASTA and its members fought against legislation that would overturn the U.S. Department of Transportation's full-fare advertising rule and turn back the clock on transparency in the cost of air travel. This work that included nearly 1,400 member e-mails to Congress.

Travel Insurance Reform: Working with a coalition led by the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, ASTA and its members have helped reform costly and complex travel insurance licensing in 30 states. Members’ grassroots efforts – including committee testimony in Colorado (Rich Sattizahn), Hawaii (Rachel Shimamoto, Wendy Goodenow) and Maryland (Larry Swerdlin, Jay Ellenby) – were instrumental in moving this initiative forward. Once in place nationwide, this standard will save agencies thousands of dollars in annual licensing costs while reducing the risk of state fines for non-compliance.

Eben Peck, ASTA's vice president of government affairs, leads ASTA's advocacy efforts, which for the remainder of the year and beyond will include these priorities:

Airline Ancillary Fee Transparency: ASTA will seek to ensure that the DOT landmark rulemaking on airline ancillary fees provides agents and consumers full access to airline ancillary fees and the ability to purchase the complete air transportation product.

Hazmat Notification Regulations: ASTA will continue its work to overturn a burdensome DOT regulation that requires agents to secure their client’s acknowledgement of complex federal hazardous materials restrictions before an airline ticket can be issued.

State Taxes: The Association and its members will oppose any state proposal to apply sales and hotel occupancy taxes to agency fees and other income.

Increasing International Travel: ASTA will work to support passage of the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act and Brand USA reauthorization legislation, which will streamline visa processes and help the U.S. recapture its historic share of worldwide overseas travel.

“ASTA is the only industry organization that has the know-how, the staff, the resources and the alliances to effectively defend the interests of travel agencies across the country,” said Kerby. “This is our mission, and agents should rest assured that we will continue to protect their interests all day, every day.”

For more information, visit www.asta.org.