January 21, 2016
ASTA Communication Department
American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) President and CEO Zane Kerby issues this statement regarding the Maryland General Assembly's vote today to "override" Governor Larry Hogan's May 2015 veto of Senate Bill (SB) 190, a bill which exposes the fees charged by travel agents for Maryland hotel bookings to the state's six percent sales tax and threatens new administrative burdens for agencies:
"ASTA is disappointed by the Maryland General Assembly's vote to override Governor Hogan's veto of SB 190, a bill which on its face will impose new taxes on fees charged by travel agents for services provided to their clients. When it comes to implementing this new law, the devil is in the details. ASTA will keep a close watch on state taxing authorities in the coming weeks and months and report back to our members as necessary.
"We can't win every fight, but we are heartened by the response of our Maryland members to our multiple calls to action over the past year – nearly 500 advocacy messages sent to legislators, as well as dozens of phone calls and in-person meetings. In particular, we wish to recognize ASTA Vice Chairman Jay Ellenby of Safe Harbors Travel in Bel Air, Karen Dunlap of Travel-On in Laurel and Bill Cleveland of Antietam Travel Service in Frederick for their exemplary efforts to support our industry against long odds. We also want to thank Governor Hogan and supportive legislators such as Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-Baltimore/Harford County) for their backing through this process.
"As the national trade association for travel agents of all shapes and sizes, we remain committed to fighting against new taxes and red tape on the independent travel distribution channel upon which so many of our fellow citizens rely."
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.