ing as we had access to the same types
of speakers, etc., paying the membership
dues seemed a waste of money.”
Many agents are still smarting from
what they consider a toothless response
from ASTA to the commission issues of
the 1990s. That resentment has been a
perennial issue for more than a decade,
especially among older agents with long
“I felt that ASTA did not stand up
against suppliers for agents’ rights and
settled for too little [too] soon from the
airlines,” one respondent wrote, echoing a
Of the 107 agents who said they were
ASTA members, either on their own or
via their agency, ASTA’s political advocacy
on behalf of the industry was the most
cited reason agents gave for membership.
“ASTA is the voice of the travel indus-
try,” one respondent wrote. “The com-
bined efforts of the association, vs. a
single agency trying to solve some of the
regulations, is powerful.”
Another wrote: “ASTA has my back
when it comes to government interven-
tion in my business.”
Many agents also appreciate ASTA for
providing them with industry informa-
tion and networking, and several said it
gave them credibility with consumers.
“The recognition we receive as being
a reputable travel agency by displaying
the ASTA logo” was the most important
membership perk, one respondent wrote.
G20 tourism ministers and officials of intergovern- mental bodies in Chichen Itza en route from Merida to the Riviera Maya.
facilitated by the general secretary of the
United Nations World Tourism Organization, Talib Rafai.
All G20 nations were represented, as were
regional ministers from the Caribbean and
Central and South America, as well as representatives from IATA, the World Travel
and Tourism Council (WTTC), the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development, the International Labor Organization, the International Civil Aviation
Organization and the International Trade
Although travel does not enjoy Cabinet-level status in the U.S., Thomas Nides,
deputy secretary of state, and Earl Anthony
Wayne, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico,
were present when the T20 ministers re-
Continued from Page 1
viewed the Merida Declaration in preparation for
presenting it to Calderon
later that day.
Nides had been instrumental in pushing the
to seriously consider the
potential for travel and
tourism to assist in economic recovery. The result was the development
of the country’s first national tourism strategy,
The U.S. already participates in the reciprocal Visa Waiver Program with 36 other
countries, including seven of the G20: Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the
U.K. and South Korea.
Although it was the ministers who reviewed the document and presented it, it
was their senior technical staff who labored
behind closed doors May 15 and hammered
out the final wording of the declaration.
According to multiple sources in attendance, the draft that was first reviewed
raised concerns from some of the Western
representatives who felt it went too far in
suggesting that “the doors are open” as regards the issuance of visas.
It was clear that some countries had security concerns, and others felt it simply could
not be sold to their foreign affairs depart-
See MINISTERS on Page 40
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M A Y 21, 2012