January 15, 2016
ASTA Communication Department
American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) President and CEO Zane Kerby issues this statement regarding the upcoming vote in the Maryland General Assembly on whether or not to "override" Governor Larry Hogan's veto of Senate Bill (SB) 190, which would subject the fees charged by travel agents for Maryland hotel bookings to the state's six percent sales tax and create new administrative burdens for agencies:
"On behalf of the more than 1,100 people who work in the travel agency industry in the State of Maryland, we urge the General Assembly to oppose the veto override of SB 190, a bill that will impose a new tax on travel services. Despite the rhetoric, this bill clearly gives taxing authorities the ability to go after travel agents of all shapes and sizes, online or offline – including the 226 Maryland agencies that employ more than 1,100 people. This would come at a time when our members are competing not only with each other and the online travel companies, but also against huge hotel chains aggressively pushing consumers to 'book direct' with the hotel and not with their trusted travel agent.
"In the days leading up to the vote, the Assembly will have to consider whether it wants to voluntarily take a step that will make Maryland less competitive from both the consumer's and the travel agent's perspective. Increasing the cost of doing business for these travel agents—many of them small business owners—by exposing them to new taxes and layers of red tape creates a disincentive for agents to send travelers to Maryland, and a cost incentive to send them elsewhere.
"We urge the General Assembly to reject this new tax and uphold the Governor's veto of SB 190."
Rebranded in 2018 as the American Society of Travel Advisors, ASTA is the leading global advocate for travel advisors, the travel industry and the traveling public. Its members represent 80 percent of all travel sold in the United States through the travel agency distribution channel. Together with hundreds of internationally-based members, ASTA’s history of industry advocacy traces back to its founding in 1931 when it launched with the mission to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. For more information about the Society, visit ASTA.org. Consumers can connect with an ASTA travel advisor at TravelSense.org.