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This issue's cover story, "The Resurgence of ASTA" (page 14), provides an
update on what's new at the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), as
well as a look at where the organization is headed.
As the story states, it wasn't that long ago that there were serious doubts
throughout the industry about the future of ASTA. I admit that I was one of
the skeptics who wondered if the group (on a national level) could be
relevant again. Now, I'm happy to say that reports of ASTA's demise were
greatly exaggerated - the organization has retooled and refocused and is
once again an important resource and partner to all travel advisors.
In fact, ASTA's relevance seems to be growing daily, especially when it
comes to its advocacy work. Whatever you think of the new administration,
there's little debate that legislative action is happening at a dizzying
speed. Industries that don't have strong government lobbying programs run
the risk of being steamrolled by legislators who may be new to government
or unaware of the unintended consequences of their policy decisions. In
this political climate, having an experienced industry group fighting for
your rights is more valuable than ever before.
On the consumer awareness front, even though business is growing for the
majority of agents, there's still a general lack of understanding among
many potential travelers about the value of travel advisors. With
regulations changing, dynamics between world governments shifting and
social attitudes toward various nationalities becoming more fluid, booking
an international vacation is clearly not best left to an algorithm.
Instead, cautious consumers are going to need customized, professional
advice. Without ASTA's consumer awareness initiatives, potential clients
might not even think of working with an agent, and the industry will miss
out on a whole new generation of clients.
Fortunately, we can now declare that ASTA is on top of it.
And just that simple statement should be a reason for optimism to all of