Alexandria, VA, February 9, 2021 - Zane Kerby, President & CEO of the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA), issues the following statement in response to a cascading series of government restrictions on travel, which is inflicting additional economic damage on the already-crippled travel industry:
"ASTA acknowledges that our country is in the midst of the biggest public health crisis in U.S. history and that continued action is necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19. However, it is undeniable that government mandates here and abroad - the most recent examples being the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) requirement of a negative COVID test for entry to the U.S., and the Canadian government's announcement that it is closing its ports to cruise ships through early 2022 - have had a catastrophic impact on the travel and hospitality industry. The travel-reliant jobs that have survived nearly a year without meaningful business and revenue (and many have not) are at immediate risk of collapse through no fault of their own.
"Existing and contemplated travel restrictions create uncertainty, fail to acknowledge effective safety measures already in place, divert focus and resources from needed areas and will and have done little to stop or tame the virus' spread. It seems intuitive that when government action, taken in the interest of protecting public health, has a disproportionally negative impact on a specific industry, as is the case here, it is a matter of fundamental fairness that the government provide targeted relief to the businesses most severely affected.
"Thus far, financial support for the travel industry has been tragically inadequate, and especially in less visible sectors such as travel agencies. The vast majority of the US's 130,000 travel agencies are small, female-owned businesses. Our elected officials must take responsibility for the consequences of their actions as well as those of the regulators they charge with managing public health. We call on the Administration and Congress to take immediate steps to provide direct and targeted relief for as long as these restrictions on travel remain in effect through the creation of an emergency grant program for travel agencies and other travel-reliant small businesses. We further recommend that legislative or regulatory action be taken to mitigate the impact of the Canadian government's decision to suspend cruise operations in Canadian waters through February 2022, and that future relief be targeted to the most distressed sectors of the economy affected by government order."
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.