Washington, D.C., March 9, 2020- Zane Kerby, President & CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), issues the following statement in response to the Administration's advising U.S. citizens, particularly travelers with underlying health conditions, not to travel by cruise ship.
"Given the importance of the cruise industry to travel advisors, ASTA is gravely concerned about the impact of this advisory on our members' businesses. As we shared with the White House before the advisories were issued, the vast majority of cruise trips go off without a hitch, and government actions should reflect that fact and be targeted and temporary. We hope this advisory lasts days, not weeks.
"There are 365 cruise ships sailing today with nearly 700,000 passengers aboard. Only two ships have a coronavirus problem. A targeted focus on cruising is a distraction from the real issue of community spread. Telling the traveling public to avoid cruising and painting the entire industry with a broad 'high risk' brush stroke is irresponsible, and ads to the "info-demic" gripping the public. Those who have underlying health conditions should consult their physician to evaluate a variety of activities including travel."
"On behalf of ASTA and our 12,000 members across the country, 98% of whom are small businesses according to the Small Business Administration and 2/3 of whom are owned and operated by women, we urge the Administration to work with Congress on a legislative package of targeted relief for the travel industry, especially the small businesses at its core. Items such as federal grants, low- or no-interest SBA loans and regulatory relief for small businesses should be considered. Tomorrow, ASTA will testify at the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee to provide specific examples to Congress for how to help travel advisors continue to serve their clients and highlight suggested policy priorities to be considered."
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.