After seven bankruptcies in 2002 and the possibility of more
this year, the National Tour Association Board of Directors
announced plans to eliminate its Consumer Protection Plan as of
Jan. 1, 2004.
As a result, member dues will be cut by 43 percent to $400 next
year, officials said last week.
Last year the association saw a loss of $725,000 due to the
Consumer Protection Plan, which has been in place since 1988.
NTA’s plan was funded by the association, not directly by
members, and the restitution payments “created a hugely
disproportionate cost for the association,” said Hank Phillips,
CTP, NTA president.
“Could history repeat itself? It’s quite possible,” said
Phillips. “It was the board’s view that something had to give.”
The board is scheduled to meet April 22-27 to discuss
alternatives to the plan, though no new consumer restitution
programs are expected to be proposed. Instead, the association is
looking at educating members on voluntarily obtaining bonds or
establishing trust accounts to protect consumers in the event of
NTA has strongly opposed “seller of travel” legislation that has
mandated such bonds, arguing against government intrusion.
NTA tour operators will still be required to maintain a $1
million in errors and omissions and professional liability
NTA also has a code of ethics, and consumers can file complaints
through the association.
“We strongly believe that lowering the tour operator member dues
will offset these changes and will help tour operator members in
these challenging times,” said Phillips.