FTA founder Rainer Jenss took his family on a yearlong, educational journey around the globe. // © 2014 Family Travel Association
Despite the rise of family travel in recent years, there hasn’t been a single, unified voice for the industry — that is, until now. Launched this fall, the Family Travel Association (FTA) vows to promote all the child-friendly experiences that families can share together, simplify the perceived and real complexities of planning family vacations and educate consumers on the positive and lasting impact travel has on young people.
“We’ve gotten nothing but praise and positive feedback from the industry in response to starting the FTA,” says founder Rainer Jenss, who previously served as the publisher of National Geographic Kids. “Many people have been surprised that nothing like this has existed before.”
Even before the organization officially launched, a dozen members joined, including Abercrombie & Kent, South Dakota Tourism, Atlantis Paradise Island and Lindblad Expeditions. Membership has since expanded to include Expedia, Afar, Scholastic Parent & Child, Travel + Leisure and travel agency The Family Traveler.
“Our ultimate goal is to help all our members grow their business by inspiring more families to travel,” Jenss says. “Travel agents who become members will have access to important industry research, the latest news and information about family travel, networking opportunities with companies focused on family travel and exposure to consumers through the association’s website.”
In 2015, the FTA will release an industry white paper on family travel from the results of a major research study conducted in partnership with New York University. The organization will also host the first annual FTA Summit at Mountain Sky Guest Ranch in Emigrant, Mont. The two-day event will feature thought leaders from within and outside the industry who will present on a variety of subjects — all centered on family travel.
“I’m convinced that any parent willing to give the gift of travel offers the gift that keeps on giving,” says Keith Bellows, FTA board member and editor-in-chief of National Geographic Traveler. “Children who learn to travel will travel to learn. And they will do it all their lives.”
FTA membership rates for travel agents range from $500 to $1,000.