ASTA and its industry allies believe that a national travel and tourism policy now being formulated should require airlines to provide travel agents with access to transparent, transactable information about airline optional fees and services. Travelers should be able to make ‘all in,’ full-price comparisons, ASTA says.
ASTA, joined by the Interactive Travel Services Association (ITSA), the National Tour Association (NTA), the Business Travel Coalition (BTC) and the Open Allies for Airfare Transparency coalition (OAAT), said it has submitted comments to the International Trade Administration’s Task Force on Travel and Competitiveness, outlining ASTA's pro-agent stance.
The Task Force will submit its recommendations directly to President Obama as part of the creation of a new National Travel and Tourism Strategy, an initiative to stimulate domestic and international travel to create jobs and help rebuild the U.S. economy.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to bring the critical issue of full access to ancillary fees to the attention of the White House,” said ASTA CEO Tony Gonchar. “Travel agencies sell more than half of all air travel sold in the United States and remain key intermediaries for both leisure and business travelers. We urge the White House to ensure that all travelers are able to make ‘all in,’ full-price comparisons, regardless of the outlet through which they choose to purchase their travel.”
“ASTA believes that it is necessary and appropriate for the Administration to declare its policy on this issue now as guidance to the Department of Transportation in its consideration of the proposed rules. Travel agents and other third party sellers of air travel want to be a source of information and purchase for optional services for the millions of travelers they serve, but travel agents cannot disclose that to which they do not have access,” ASTA said in its comments
ASTA also joined separate comments from ITSA, which include three recommendations that align themselves with ASTA’s opinions regarding access to optional airline fee information. Further, ASTA co-signed comments submitted by the US. Travel Association, in conjunction with a number of associations, in support of a national tourism strategy that will increase the United States’ tourism market share worldwide and create business opportunities for travel agents.
ASTA also signed on with the National Travel Association in a discussion of issues arising from the Travel Regional Investment Partnership Act, HR 3484/S 1663.
The Travel and Tourism Advisory Board, which serves in an advisory role to the Secretary of Commerce in connection with this project, counts ASTA member Olga Ramudo as a member, ASTA noted.