In the travel news this week there’s an item about the state of
Oregon launching new regulations for sellers of travel. In Oregon,
groups of agents can form “self-regulating associations” with a
code of ethics and a dispute-resolution process for consumers to
promote themselves as consumer-friendly. Other travel associations
plan to register for this law and apply for certification. However,
ARTA wants no part of it.
Why does ARTA oppose all state seller of travel laws?
First, we believe that travel agents do not pose a threat to
consumers. Day in and day out, you book travel for your clients and
you close sales for suppliers, but you rarely have control of the
clients’ funds. In many cases, you accept credit cards that are
given to suppliers for processing, or checks made payable to
suppliers. It would be unusual that a travel agent would have a
significant amount of cash on hand from consumers to do
Second, we feel that agents should not be treated differently
from other types of retailers. How many states regulate bookstores?
Or computer dealers? Or toy stores? Almost none. Therefore, why
should you have to bear the costs and hassles of registering with a
Third, we’re convinced that the Oregon law in particular has
major flaws. Associations registering for certification under this
new law can’t really offer consumers any guarantees about
participating agencies. How much protection does a code of ethics
and a dispute-resolution process offer?
In practical terms, we see problems as well for the
associations, which could be named as defendants if consumers sue
their agents. That’s why ARTA and OSSN oppose the California Seller
of Travel law, as well as new laws like Oregon’s that have come
down the pike.