United States Tour Operators Association
|Headquarters||New York, New York|
The 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 whose tours, vacation packages, and custom arrangements encompass the entire globe 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 high 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 association’s Travelers Assistance Program, which among other things protects consumer payments up to $1 million in case the company goes out of business.
Integrity in Tourism
- 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 following principles:
Ethical Conduct: Members must conduct business with competence and professionalism, representing truthfully and accurately all facts, conditions and requirements relating to their tours and travel packages.
Truth In Advertising: Advertising and quoting of prices must clearly show total deliverable prices, accurately identifying facilities, accommodations and services used. Any changes or substitutions must be communicated expeditiously to the travel agent and/or client involved.
Ethical and Financial Responsibility: Active members' business conduct must instill confidence in their financial stability, reliability and integrity.
Membership Categories & Standards
USTOA has three categories of membership: Active, Associate, and Allied.
Active Corporate 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.
- meet specific minimums in terms of passengers and/or sales volume.
- carry minimum $1,000,000 of professional Travel Agent/Tour Operator liability insurance, with worldwide coverage.
- participate in USTOA's 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.
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. Includes Worldwide Airlines, Car Rental Companies, Hotel/Resort/Restaurant Groups, Tourist Boards, Trade Associations.
Allied Members are carriers (other than common carriers) and suppliers whose products or services bring them into contact with travelers on tour itineraries. Includes Advertising & Public Relations, Airlines (Local), Airport Authorities, Attractions, Cruise Operators, Financial Services, Ground Tour Operators, Independent Hotels/Restaurants/Resorts, Insurance & Medical Assistance, Legal Services, Marketing & Travel Related Services, Media, Technology & Reservations Systems, Trade Shows, Visa and Passport Services.
- Goeldner, Charles R. and Ritchie, J.R. Brent. Tourism: principles, practices, philosophies.