USTOA was founded in 1972 by a small group of California tour operators concerned about tour operator bankruptcies. These founding members recognized the need for a unified voice to protect the traveling public, as well as to represent the interests of tour operators. In 1975, USTOA became a national organization with headquarters in New York.
Today, USTOA Active members represent some of the top names in travel and tourism, and account for a sizeable portion of the tour operator market in North America.
The association made history in 1976 when it became the first travel organization to establish a consumer protection fund, followed by a $100,000 per member bonding requirement to protect consumers' tour deposits and payments in case of bankruptcy or cessation of business.
Over the years, the plan has been strengthened in response to changing economic times. Today, the USTOA $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program -- which requires each member company to set aside $1 million of its own funds specifically to protect consumers' deposits and payments -- is recognized as the strongest of its kind in the industry.
But, USTOA does far more. Through ongoing public relations and consumer awareness campaigns, we educate the traveling public about the benefits of packaged vacations. We help destinations and travel entities build tourism through organizing workshops, product development trips and meetings.
Last but not least, USTOA's highly active government affairs committee has tirelessly championed a policy of open borders. The committee has worked successfully with the Department of Transportation (DOT), U.S. State Department and other government entities to facilitate tourism worldwide.
The USTOA was started to foster trust in tour operators, and its motto, “Integrity in Tourism” requires members to adhere to the highest standards in the industry. Among these is the principle of ethical conduct, which requires members to conduct business according to a set of professional standards which include representing all facts, conditions and requirements relating to tours and vacation packages truthfully and accurately.
Truth in Advertising requires that members advertise and quote prices which are totally deliverable; accurately identify facilities, accommodations and services; and communicate any substitutions promptly to the travel agent and/or their client.
Members must also demonstrate ethical and financial responsibility in their business conduct in order to instill confidence in their financial stability, reliability and integrity.
A travel vacation should not only be an unforgettable experience, but offer solid peace of mind. That’s why USTOA created a consumer protection fund which protects consumers who book with our Active Members.Learn More