Advocacy Highlights

Wins for Members

ASTA fights to protect the interests of its members and the broader travel agency community at all levels of government – federal, state and even local governments. Between 2012 and today, ASTA’s efforts led to legislative and regulatory “wins” that saved the industry an estimated $630 million in new taxes, fees and other costs. These wins include:

Securing Financial Relief Related to COVID-19

Securing small business financial relief related to COVID-19 as part of the CARES Act in March 2020, including access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loans and expansion of unemployment benefits to include independent contractors (ICs) and the self-employed. According to member surveys, 78 percent of ASTA’s 14,000 members received relief under at least one of these programs.

Securing additional relief related to COVID-19 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020, including “second draw” PPP loans for hard-hit businesses, a significant expansion of the CARES Act’s Employee Retention Tax Credit (retroactive to 2020 and more generous for the 1st half of 2021) and a continuation of expanded unemployment benefits for ICs and furloughed agency employees.

 

Removal from the U.S. Department of Labor "Blacklist"

In 2020, won a four-year fight to compel the U.S. Department of Labor to rescind an arbitrary regulatory “blacklist” that blocks travel agencies from utilizing an exemption from federal overtime rules designed for retail businesses.

Grassroots Campaigns with Results

In 2020, ASTA

  • worked with cruise line partners and ASTA’s grassroots network to press the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to replace its draconian “No-Sail Order” with a “framework for a phased resumption of cruise ship operations,” which it did in October 2020.  
  • led a grassroots campaign to force the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) to abandon a proposed 25 percent increase in annual Sellers of Travel fees, which it did in November 2020. 
  • led a grassroots campaign to compel New York State to change its mandatory two-week quarantine policy so as to allow returning travelers, including those from international destinations, to “test out” of the requirement.

California Assembly Bill (AB) 5

In 2019, working with ASTA’s consortia, host agency and local chapter leadership, secured an exemption for travel advisors in California Assembly Bill (AB) 5, which would have effectively outlawed the independent contractor model in California, saving agencies there at least $25 million per year.


Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Bill

In 2018, ASTA won a fight against burdensome new consumer disclosures contained in the five-year Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, saving our industry $29.8 million per year in “talk time” and lost sales.

Tax Relief

In 2015, 2017 and 2019, working in coordination with local members and chapters ASTA successfully opposed proposals in Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Nebraska, Ohio and Utah to expand state sales taxes to travel agency services, saving agencies in those states almost $72 million a year collectively in new taxes. 

Travel Insurance Licensing

Working with our insurance partners, starting in 2012 ASTA helped reform costly and complex travel insurance licensing in 48 states plus the District of Columbia. Annual agency savings in licensing costs and training time for these states alone totals almost $10.2 million a year.