United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) came to existence in 1972 when a set of California based tour operators founded it to brave the problems faced by the industry. It grew to be a national name in 1975 with the headquarters in New York. Since then, USTOA has attained the position of a professional organization advocating the cause of the tour operator industry as well as protecting the travellers' right. The USTOA member companies are some of the reliable names in the US and even the international travel business.
The prime vision of USTOA is to spread "Integrity in Tourism". For that reason, it has a set of objectives:
- Educate the travel industry, government agencies, and the public about tours, vacation packages, and tour operators
- Protect consumers and travel agents from financial loss in the event of a member's bankruptcy or insolvency
- Foster a high level of professionalism within the tour operator industry
- Facilitate and develop travel on a worldwide basis
Who can be its Member
USTOA has to specific categories for the members- Active Members and Supplier Members (sub heads- Associate Members and Allied Members). The US tour operators fall in the Active Member category who has to meet certain strict criteria like references from 18 industry sources and financial institutions, be in business at least three year and must bear a professional liability insurance of minimum of $1,000,000.
In Supplier Members category, Airlines, Car Rental, Hotel and Restaurant Groups, Trade Associations etc fall under the Associate Members. Whereas, Insurance/Medical Assistance, Media, Financial Services, Visa and Passport Services, Cruise Operators etc come under Allied Members.
USTOA sets certain hard and fast parameters for the members to adhere to. The Ethical Code of USTOA makes sure that the member bodies do their business with honesty and transparency by presenting all facts, schemes, deliverables and conditions in a clear way. It asks its partners to provide accurate information, accommodations and services to the traveller in an unbiased manner.
Subsequently, the members of USTOA are responsible for helping 11 million travellers plan their vacation every year with an annual sales volume of more than $9 billion.