History of


1972 - 1974

1972-logo
United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) is founded by a small group of California tour operators who recognize the need for a unified voice to protect the traveling public, as well as represent the interests of tour operators

In 1974, H. Don Reynolds, a former assistant director general of the Air Traffice Conferences for IATA, is named executive vice president.


1975

1975-photo
USTOA becomes a national organization of 38 members with its headquarters in New York.


1976

1976-logo
USTOA announces the travel industry's first consumer protection fund and adopts the motto of "Integrity in Tourism".

1978

1978-photo
Robert E. Whitley is named President of USTOA and will go on to lead the organization for 32 years. With a distinguished career in tourism for both the private and public sectors, he will become one of the most influential voices in the travel industry.


Suppliers and related travel industry entities join USTOA as "Allied and Associate" Members, as the first USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace is launched.

The first Out of Country Board Meeting is held in Tahiti with the goal to expand awareness of the destination and connect tour operators with local suppliers.


1980 - 1989

1980-89-photo
USTOA focuses on government affairs, open borders, consumer and travel agent education, and tourism development.

1997

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The consumer protection fund becomes the USTOA $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program that exists today. Each Active Member is required to set aside $1 million of its own funds specially to protect consumers' deposits and payments in the event of a company's bankruptcy or cessation of business. It is the first of its kind in the industry.

1999

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The Travelers Conservation Foundation is formed as the charitable arm of USTOA to identify and provide funding to cultural, historical, and environmental sites in need of conservation and restoration.

2001

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After the attacks of September 11, 2001, USTOA Active Members provide millions of dollars in refunds to clients and help those traveling return home safely.

2003

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Tourism Cares, formerly known as the Travelers Conservation Foundation, is formed by USTOA and the National Tour Association to make a difference in communities in the U.S. through organized clean-up and restoration projects.

2011

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Terry L. Dale is named President & CEO of USTOA with the unfortunate passing of Robert E. Whitley after three decades of service. As the former president of Cruise Line Industry Association, Dale brings more than 25 years of travel and association experience to USTOA.

2012

2012-photo
The first USTOA Congressional Caucus in Washington, DC, brings 50 members to visit elected officials on Capitol Hill to discuss regulations and issues that affect the travel industry.

USTOA commissions its first Economic Impact Study with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), which reveals that Active Members represent $10.3 billion and more than 6 million travelers in 2011.


2014

2014-photo
USTOA partners with MBA students from Cornell SC Johnson College of Business to create the "Packaged Travel Index", allowing USTOA to survey travel consumers as the first of its USTOA Innovation Lab.

2015

2015-photo
Paula Twidale, executive vice president of Collette, is named the association's first female chairman.

USTOA and Tripwing launch the packaged travel industry's first consumer review site to showcase Active Member itineraries on USTOA.com.


2018

2018-photo
The 40th USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace takes place in 2018 to bring together travel companies, tourism suppliers, and destinations from across the globe.

USTOA Active Members represent nearly $19 billion in revenue and carry nearly 10 million travelers, according to the USTOA 2018 PwC Economic Impact Study.


2019

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USTOA hosts the second Digital Marketing Academy, a one-day, immersive learning experience for Members.

Latest USTOA Blog Posts


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As a professional and a traveler, here are the top reasons why multi-generational travel is good for families.
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Travelers are familiar with Scotlands Edinburgh and Inverness, but here are a few lesser-known places in Scotland worth visiting.
USTOA $1 Million
Travelers Assistance Program

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.

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