June 13, 2019
ASTA Worked Closely with Leisure Travel Alliance, Other Consortia to Defeat Measure
Alexandria, VA, June 13, 2019 – In the wake of a vigorous campaign waged by the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and its Texas members, the Society is applauding the Texas legislature for not passing House Bill 3579, which would have applied new taxes to the fees and markups travel advisors charge clients for Texas hotel bookings.
ASTA members played a critical role in opposing this proposal, making their case through phone calls, face-to-face conversations and emails, including over 1,000 advocacy messages sent to state policymakers through ASTA’s online grassroots portal
“Thanks to the hard work of Texas ASTA members, travel advisors in Texas and across the country have avoided burdensome new taxes and being put at a competitive disadvantage with agencies in other states,” said Zane Kerby, ASTA President & CEO. “We applaud both their efforts and the legislature’s decision not to move forward with the bill, recognizing that our industry’s business model has shifted from one based strictly on commissions to one based on service fees as well.”
On May 9, during the measure’s consideration by the Texas House, the effects of ASTA’s grassroots campaign became immediately apparent, as the House adopted an amendment offered by Rep. Eddie Lucio. Mr. Lucio had been contacted by his constituent, Dennis Acosta, Director, Member Sales & Service at ASTA Premium member Leisure Travel Alliance (LTA) in Austin, TX, and LTA Vice President Bobby Godwin. The Lucio amendment would have exempted from taxation any agencies earning less than $250,000 in “annual receipts for securing rooms or spaces in hotels for others,” protecting most – but not all – Texas agencies from new taxation. The point became moot on May 27 when the legislature adjourned without sending the bill to the Governor.
“Our thanks goes to ASTA,” said D. Stuart Godwin III, CTC, President of LTA. “ASTA constantly monitors all proposed state and federal legislation that can impact travel advisors, and had they not found this bill and alerted LTA and other Texas agencies, this bill would have waltzed through the pipeline in its original form. We want more LTA members to join ASTA and this event is a perfect example of how ASTA protects the travel agency community. We need you to get in the fight on the government affairs stage – and ASTA is the only travel trade organization that has the resources to do it.”
In addition to LTA, during this campaign ASTA headquarters worked closely with consortia and network partners and with Texas members such as American Express Travel & Lifestyle Services, Ensemble Travel Group, Hickory Global Partners, Signature Travel Network, Travel Leaders Group, Virtuoso, Nexion and Frosch.
“Thanks to our collective efforts this spring, agencies in the Texas and across the country – members and non-members alike – will pay millions less in tax every year,” said Eben Peck, ASTA Executive Vice President, Advocacy. “Advocating for travel advisors at all levels of government is a core part of ASTA’s mission, and anyone who wants to be part of this unified effort should join ASTA today.”
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.