New York Times story: ‘No longer a vacation destination’
Posted On July 21, 2021
Travel agents are warning of a backlash against travel agencies as a result of a new federal rule that requires them to offer more affordable travel options.
The rule, set to take effect in 2019, also imposes additional fees on travel agencies that do not offer all-inclusive packages, including airfare.
It was initially proposed by the Transportation Department and approved by Congress.
But it has drawn criticism from airlines and travel agents, who argue the regulations will drive up the cost of travel.
“No longer an vacation destination” means that most trips to destinations that are not in the national interest will not be affordable.
The regulations do not require airlines to offer discounted or free flights to certain destinations or offer any special discounts for those who do.
The travel industry also criticized the rule, arguing it could lead to higher costs for passengers and airfare for agents.
Travel industry groups including the American Travel Association, American Airlines, American Express, and American Express Travel Club have all urged the White House to reverse the rule.
Travelers who already book with travel agencies can continue to book with them.
However, those who are already using agents will need to switch to one that does not offer travel packages that are as cheap as those offered by travel agencies.
“This is just another reason to stay away from travel agencies,” said Joe DeMartini, president of Travel Business Advisors.
The new rule also has a new provision in the Federal Travel Regulations, which requires travel agencies to offer a minimum amount of travel time to customers and require them to provide a refundable deposit.
However the rules also give travel agencies more discretion in how to determine what is and is not travel time, according to the agency.
“The Department has no authority to regulate travel agencies, and therefore no authority over travel time,” the department said in a statement.
However travel agents said they have received numerous calls from customers complaining about the new rule.
“It’s really tough to know what to expect from a travel agency when you’re not allowed to be on their phone list,” said Paul Burchard, executive director of the Travel Agents Association of America.
“But this has the potential to really hamper travel.”
Travelers can contact the travel agency they’re booking with to verify their trip is affordable.
Some travel agencies have already taken action.
Some airlines have pulled their customers from booking travel with the travel agencies and announced that they would no longer offer discounted fares.
For example, United Airlines announced that it would no more offer free flights for those with an annual membership to a travel agent.
Travel agents said that the travel agents rule will also hurt the travel industry because it will affect agents who book a wide variety of travel plans, from solo trips to group vacations to extended stays.
The airlines said they will only offer the lowest rates available to their members.
They will also be able to offer longer, more expensive travel packages if they meet the criteria set by the department.
The airline travel industry has also expressed frustration with the new travel rules.
“While the Department is currently assessing the impact of the rule on travel agents and other travel providers, we believe the agency’s rule will have a negative impact on our members and their customers,” the travel association said in an emailed statement.
The Federal Travel Bureau does not have an official position on whether the travel rules will hurt the industry, according the bureau.
However one of its employees said the travel bureau has already begun looking into the issue and said that while the agency has not yet made any decisions, it would likely be working with the industry to determine the best course of action.
“Travel agencies are going to be very, very concerned about the rule,” said Tom Hulter, the bureau’s acting director.
“We are going from being a destination that people would come to for a vacation, to a destination where they would not come for a trip.”
The travel agency travel industry is expected to make up for the loss of business by offering more affordable trips, but the travel service industry will be hurt as well, the travel agent industry said.
“I am not sure we can compete against travel agents in the travel services,” said Peter Smith, the vice president of the travel business for the travel company American Express.
“They will be competing with the airlines.”