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ASTA’s Ten Reasons Why Travel Advisors are Industry Essential

As I write this page I am attending ASTA’s Annual Global Convention.

Doug Cooke

With just under 1,000 attendees, this year’s conference symbolizes the beginning of  return to “normal” for the travel industry. 


One of the pillars of ASTA is its advocacy for Travel Advisors. It fought hard this year to ensure that Travel Advisors’ needs were heard in Washington, and for their inclusion in federal relief plans. Part of this advocacy was a call to congress to provide targeted relief, in which they highlighted the 10 reasons why Travel Advisors are Industry Essential. Below is that list. As we all know, the travel industry is not out of the woods yet and ASTA continues to lobby for additional relief. Knowing these talking points can assist with individual Travel Advisor efforts to lobby your senators and congressional reps.


1. Travel Agencies are an economic lifeline for the entire tourism ecosystem. Pre-pandemic, in 2019, advisors sold $116.8 billion of travel including: 44 percent of all airline tickets (830,000 tickets per day); 66 percent of cruises and 31 percent of hotel bookings.


2. With border closures and ever-shifting regulations, Covid-19 has upended traditional travel. 


3. Government health and safety regulations, while necessary, have disproportionately affected travel agencies.


4. Congressional assistance across the travel and hospitality industry has been grossly uneven to date.  With several billion dollars provided to hoteliers, airlines and airports, it’s no wonder that 62 percent of Americans agree that small travel-reliant businesses have been left out of government relief.


5. Travel agencies are suffering in the wake of the pandemic with the majority expected to close within the next 12 months.  Even with relief from the CARES Act, travel agencies have laid off 60 percent of their staff and more than 70 percent will shut their doors in six months, threatening the $7.3 billion in payroll output the industry generates.


6. Industry recovery is expected to take time – these small businesses don’t have that. Due to the economic model of travel agencies, wherein advisors are only paid once a customer’s travel is complete, it will take more than eight months after travel bookings pick back up before agencies see any income.


7. In fact, first-person testimonials from ASTA members indicate that making up for lost revenue could take years. 


8. The demise of this business sector would put more than 700,000 U.S. jobs at risk.  Based on an economic model from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, travel agencies provide roughly 160,000 jobs. As one of the primary distribution channels for airlines, cruises and hotels, however, they also support more than 700,000 U.S. jobs in the travel sector.


9. The role of the travel advisor will be critial in the increasingly complicated travel landscape. 


10. The stakes are high: travel advisors will struggle to survive without targeted relief. 

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