Press Releases

USTOA Active Member Refund Statement

Published May 12, 2020 12:00AM


May 2020


USTOA and its tour operator members recognize the severity of the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis on consumers. Questions about trips that have been cancelled due to the global pandemic are valid and urgent for consumers facing financial hardship.

There is no industry standard regarding cancellation and refund policies among USTOA members; it is up to the individual member company to determine these policies based on their business model. The Association’s tour operator members represent a broad range of travel options, including escorted group tours, individual travel (FIT), private/custom programs, student travel, ocean/river cruises, and more.  USTOA stands for “Integrity in Travel,” and as such, each of the Association’s tour operator members adheres to the highest standards of integrity and code of ethics as a requirement of membership. This includes representing all facts, conditions and requirements relating to tours and vacation packages truthfully and accurately.  

An escorted tour is a complicated, well-orchestrated travel product in which payments have been made to vendors in destinations months and sometimes even years in advance. As a result of the forced shutdown of travel due to COVID-19, the escorted tour eco-system is under enormous pressure to provide a satisfactory resolution for travelers whose tours have been cancelled while also being responsible partners to vendors in every community visited around the globe.

While there is no universal cancellation policy, USTOA tour operator members are implementing a number of solutions for consumers, including flexible rebooking, refund options, travel vouchers, and incentives to rebook travel at another time, among others. 

USTOA is confident that each tour operator member is doing its utmost to support its customers, while also maintaining responsible business practices to support the communities they visit. As the industry works together to recover, the tour operator members of USTOA are working tirelessly to ensure continued opportunities for travelers to explore the world when they are ready.




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