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 Traffic 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

1997-photo
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

1999-photo
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

2001-photo
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

2003-photo
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

terry dale headshot
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

2019-photo
USTOA hosts the second Digital Marketing Academy, a one-day, immersive learning experience for Members.

2020

2020-photo
In January, USTOA kicked off the year by holding its Third Digital Marketing Academy. As soon as the Coronavirus pandemic halted international travel to/from the US in March, USTOA organized a meeting in Washington, DC with 11 travel industry associations to discuss key issues facing the travel industry. USTOA conducted more than a dozen surveys throughout the year of tour operator and tourism board members to track trends, insights, and the impact on their businesses as a result of the pandemic. In June, USTOA collaborated with CATO and ETOA to create TOURCARE Guidelines for Tour Operators, a set of health and sanitization guidelines designed specifically for tour operator members.

From December 1-3, the USTOA Virtual Conference & Marketplace was held. Among the events and milestones, more than 5600 confirmed live one-on-one Marketplace appointments were conducted between members, two general sessions were broadcast live along with seven live continent market intelligence briefings.

2022

50 years USTOA
USTOA celebrated its 50th anniversary by making a “50 Years Forward” commitment to advocate for and proactively guide travelers, members, and industry colleagues on a path toward greater sustainability and responsible practices. A number of major educational and awareness initiatives were launched including the Sustainability is Responsibility Summit, the first USTOA Future Lights of the Tour Industry, and Sustainable Suzie, USTOA’s superhero for sustainable travel.

Latest USTOA Blog Posts


Debunking Common Myths about Guided Vacations
Debunking Common Myths about Guided Vacations By Lisa Sands, Director of Marketing, CIE Tours As it relates to fast-paced journeys through Europe, you’ve likely heard the phrase “if it’s Tuesday, this must be Belgium!”.  A 1969 movie by that name exaggerated the experiences people had in the early days of motorcoach touring; and although the… Read More
Windstar Celebrates 35th Anniversary of Polynesian Cruises
Windstar Celebrates 35th Anniversary of Polynesian Cruises By: Carolyn Spencer Brown Christopher Prelog has been to French Polynesia many times and one thing stays true for him on every visit. “There is a state of mind about Polynesia that blends natural beauty, a sense of grace and peace and, importantly, the energy of the people.”… Read More
Regenerating The Red Sea
Regenerating The Red Sea Located on the west coast of Saudi Arabia, the Red Sea is evolving as a year-round destination with a key focus on regeneration through sustainable practices that include 100% commitment to renewable energy, modern technology to provide personalized digital services, and immersive experiences for a “true Arabian” adventure.   The Red Sea… Read More
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.

Learn More

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