ALL ABOUT OUR

Story and Mission

We are the world's largest association of travel professionals and the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Our members include travel advisors and the companies whose products they sell from air, tours and safaris to cruises, hotels, resorts, rental cars and more.

Our story begins in 1931 when ASTA was founded as the American Steamship & Tourist Agents Association. As modes of travel evolved, so did ASTA, widening our focus and renaming ourselves the American Society of Travel Agents in 1944. Then, reflecting the shift from booking agent to trusted advisor, in 2018, ASTA became the American Society of Travel Advisors.

Our members are bound by a shared code of ethics and the ASTA logo is recognized around the world as a symbol of professionalism and integrity. 

THE MANY FACES OF

OUR MISSION

ASTA’s over-arching mission is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. We are also the leading advocate for travel advisors and the entire travel agency community, including suppliers and the traveling public. 

From the start, carrying out our mission has meant promoting professionalism and advocating with legislators and suppliers for our members, our industry and the traveling public. Because travelers depend on travel advisors and others affiliated with ASTA to guide them honestly and competently, ASTA members are required to conduct their business activities in accordance with the ASTA Code of Ethics. This promotes  professionalism in the industry and trust among the general public.

The COVID-19 crisis serves as a great example of our mission in action. Travel advisors were among the true heroes of the pandemic, working tirelessly to get stranded clients home when flights and borders were shut down and helping clients deal with pandemic-related cancelations, schedule changes and the ever-shifting rules and regulations around the world. Because of the economics of the industry, travel advisors workloads grew exponentially at the same time that their commission payments were being delayed, slashed. and too often, wiped out.

One of the reasons many agencies and advisors could survive and continue serving the traveling public was that behind the scenes, ASTA was fulfilling its advocacy role as champion of the travel agency community  Thanks to our advocacy team and the support of our member-volunteers, ASTA successfully persuaded Congress to include travel agencies in the industries covered under the CARES Act and receive Paycheck Protection (PPP) and Employee Retention Tax Credit (ERTC) funding and to enable independent contractors to receive unemployment benefits for the first time ever. 

The pandemic also kicked our role as educators into high gear as our team produced live and taped webinars and live Q&A sessions that helped the travel agency community understand and navigate the red tape to access these funds. We also provided lists of official resources so our members could stay on top of the latest CDC guidance and other information vital to our members and their clients.

Our rich educational programing continues to help keep travel advisors at the top of their game and promotes professionalism via courses on everything from accounting and artificial intelligence to marketing and social media. Verified Travel Advisor ( VTA) certification is the pinnacle of our training, and brings added benefits to advisors and helps promote confidence among consumers.

Our mission also extends to educating the travel and consumer media and the general public about the value of using a travel advisor, and we work closely with the media every day to ensure that our story is being told. The need for a travel advisor was never more apparent than during the pandemic, and our public relations team shared the stories of the many travel advisors who went above and beyond in a  "Not All Heroes Wear Capes" #TravelHero campaign.

Our outreach to the general public takes a big step with our new website, where travelers can search our directory for travel advisors who match their needs, submit a trip request which will be forwarded as leads to members, or opt to use a Verified Travel Advisor (VTA) and explore destinations and find expert travel advice featuring our members.


ASTA Partnerships and

Global Support

Together, we are more powerful. Just as we come together as a Society to achieve our goals, ASTA collaborates with other organizations for the greater good.

World Committee on Tourism Ethics  (WCTE)

ASTA is a signatory to the Private Sector Commitment to the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism. In signing the commitment, companies pledge to uphold, promote and implement the values of responsible and sustainable tourism development championed by the Code. A special focus on social, cultural and economic matters is one of the main objectives of the Commitment, which draws particular attention to issues such as human rights, social inclusion, gender equality, accessibility, and the protection of vulnerable groups and host communities. The Society encourages its members to read the UNWTO Global Code of Ethics for Tourism and implement these principles in their business practices.  

Wildlife Trafficking Alliance  

ASTA joined the U.S. Wildlife Trafficking Alliance to help travelers recognize and avoid purchasing the illegal wildlife products that are decimating global populations of elephants, rhinos, tortoises, and other endangered species. This public-private partnership works together with governmental entities to raise awareness about the dangers of wildlife trafficking and to stop consumer demand for endangered species products.

Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism

ASTA supports the travel industry in the ongoing battle against child sex tourism with its adoption of the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and TourismThe Society encourages its members to support measures taken to counter the exploitation of women and children.

American Society of Travel Advisors

675 N Washington St, Ste 490, Alexandria, VA 22314 U.S.A.
800.ASK.ASTA

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