Last updated: 09:59 AM ET, Mon July 06 2015

USTOA Heads to Washington for Advocacy Efforts

Tour Operator | U.S. Tour Operators Association | David Cogswell | June 15, 2015

USTOA Heads to Washington for Advocacy Efforts

PHOTO: Terry Dale, president and CEO of the U.S. Tour Operators Association. (Courtesy USTOA)


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The U.S. Tour Operators Association is descending on Washington this week to make its case to legislators about issues important to tour operators and to the travel industry at large. Active members who are tour operators and associate members, which are supplier partners in the industry, will be joining together to make their voices heard in Washington.

The association scheduled its annual Congressional Caucus June 17-18 at the Washington Court Hotel. Congresswoman Kathleen Rice, a Democrat of New York, will open the first session. After Rice’s opening remarks she will turn over the floor to Republican Senator John Boozman of Arkansas, who will speak in favor of the opening of travel rights to Cuba.

Cuba is one of the association’s top legislative priorities, according to Terry Dale, USTOA’s president and CEO.

“USTOA is a longtime avid supporter of an Open Borders policy and Cuba is one of the top priorities for our meetings with members of Congress,” said Dale. “With the recent vote in the House that would reverse the loosening of travel restrictions to Cuba, our visit to Capitol Hill couldn’t be timelier. USTOA fully supports both the Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act (H.R. 664), as well as the Freedom to Export to Cuba Act (S. 491).” 

Among the issues that concern USTOA members is the JOLT Act (Jobs Originated through Launching Travel). The purpose of the JOLT Act is to streamline regulations of inbound travelers to the U.S. The bill and its implications for the travel industry will be discussed by Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), co-chair of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus.

According to Dale, “The JOLT Act continues to be critically important to international travelers and USTOA members.”

The U.S. State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for transportation affairs, Thomas Engle, will talk about the current status of Open Skies policies and where that debate is headed.

Patricia Rojas-Ungár, vice president of government relations for the U.S. Travel Association, will discuss U.S. travel industry concerns in general and will discuss specific legislative priorities, such as the funding of the National Park Service Centennial. 

“National Parks is another hot topic on our agenda with USTOA in support of all legislation that helps restore and reinvest in these sacred American lands,” said Dale. “With next year’s 100th anniversary and recent markups on National Park Service bills, it’s a crucial time to be a part of the conversation.” 

Blane Workie, acting assistant general counsel of the Office of Aviation Enforcement and Proceedings, U.S. Department of Transportation, will discuss other current issues of concern to the DOT.

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