United States Tour Operators Association
|Headquarters||New York, New York|
United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) is a 501(c) registered nonprofit professional association representing the tour operator industry. Its members are made up of companies who provide services worldwide but who conduct business in the U.S. As a voice for the tour operator industry, USTOA represents this sector in matters pertaining to the travel industry as a whole, both in the U.S. and abroad. Among USTOA's goals are consumer protection and education, and its standards and work in this area have earned USTOA the endorsement of the United States Government's Consumer Action Handbook.
USTOA member companies must meet a number of ethical and financial criteria, including participation in the USTOA $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program, which among other things protects consumer payments up to $1 million in case the company files for bankruptcy, insolvency or cessation of business.
- Inform the travel industry, government agencies and the public about tour operators' activities and objectives.
- Educate consumers on matters pertaining to tours and vacation packages.
- Help consumers recoup financial loss arising from an Active Corporate Member's bankruptcy or insolvency.
- Help maintain a high level of professionalism within the tour operator industry.
- Represent the tour operator community and cooperate with other trade organizations and government agencies.
- Facilitate and encourage tourism on a worldwide basis.
USTOA Active Corporate Members pledge to adhere to the principles of ethical conduct, truth in advertising, ethical and financial responsibility, liability insurance, and a solid background that includes multiple industry and financial references and current active members as sponsors.
USTOA has two categories of membership: Active and Associate.
USTOA Active Members must meet the definition of a tour operator. In addition, they must:
- have 16 references from reputable travel industry organizations, plus two from USTOA Active Members.
- be in business at least three years under same ownership and/or management.
- carry minimum $1,000,000 of professional Travel Agent/Tour Operator liability insurance, with worldwide coverage.
- participate in USTOA $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program, which among other requirements, stipulates that each Active Corporate USTOA member post a $1 million bond to help protect consumers in case of bankruptcy or other insolvency.
USTOA Associate Members are organizations, common carriers and suppliers of tour products and services, other entities connected with travel not directly serving travelers on tour itineraries. These members include companies that provide advertising and public relations, airlines, various attractions, car rental companies, financial services, hotels, and passport services, among others.
- Goeldner, Charles R. and Ritchie, J.R. Brent. Tourism: principles, practices, philosophies.