Members of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) took to Capitol Hill this week to elicit support for ASTA’s top legislative priorities in promoting and defending the profession, looking out for the consumer and supporting the travel and tourism industry in general.
Kicking off Legislative Day 2014, ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby (pictured) said, “ASTA’s primary role is to promote and defend the agency community. Increasing our visibility with key lawmakers and regulators who shape our industry is an essential activity. Every ASTA member segment — from large corporate agency owners to independent operators — were on hand to put a real life face and voice to our industry’s issues.”
Among ASTA’s legislative priorities this year are: (1) Opposing the Transparent Airfares Act of 2014 (H.R.4156), which would repeal the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) pro-consumer rule that currently keeps the total price of a fare as transparent as possible for the traveling public; (2) Asking the DOT to close the gap between existing rules and the full restoration of comparison shopping regarding ancillary services and fees so that consumers have full access to them when airlines unbundle their fares; (3) Ending discriminatory taxes on car rentals by supporting H.R.2543, a bipartisan bill that would prohibit state and local governments from imposing new special taxes on car rentals; and (4) Increasing international travel to the U.S. through initiatives such as the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel Act, or “JOLT Act” (H.R. 1354), which would streamline the entry process for international visitors, expand the Visa Waiver Program, reduce visa interview wait times and increase participation in the Global Entry program and the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act of 2014 (H.R. 4450/S. 2250), which would reauthorize Brand USA, the non-profit, public-private partnership dedicated to increasing inbound international travel.
ASTA chairman John Lovell of Breton Village Travel Services in Grand Rapids, Mich., commented, “ASTA is one of the truly unique associations in which small and big businesses come together for the collective good of the industry. Imagine the impact we could have if more of those in the industry were to support their national trade association and its advocacy efforts.”