Tourism and travel is a challenging and unique business. Within the course of a single hour you may help one client plan a road trip to the California Central coast, and then book a couple for a romantic escape to the archaeological sites of the Mundo Maya and end up creating a family adventure on New Zealand's North Island. No other business demands more accurate information about geography, culture, and current events in distant places than the travel industry. Clients count on tourism professionals for up-to-date information that can make or break a vacation.
Most travel and tourism industry professionals recognize that trade associations and organizations can provide valuable contacts, networking opportunities, and information. The following list identifies some of the organizations dedicated to helping tourism and leisure travel specialists excel.
Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA)
ATTA is an international association of travel agents, tour operators, destination managers, service providers, and other travel professionals dedicated to creating sustainable adventure tourism opportunities for the hiking, biking, climbing, jumping, and exploring subsets of travelers.
American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA)
ASTA is the world's largest association of travel professionals. It is very active in lobbying, education, and networking. Each year, it hosts the Travel Global Convention.
Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA)
ABTA is the premier trade association for travel agents, tour operators, and travel service providers who work with clients from or traveling to the nation that invented tourism.
Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO)
AITO is an association of more than a hundred independent tour operators serving the British market with a wide variety of tours and holidays throughout the world.
Association of National Tourist Offices and Representatives (ANTOR)
ANTOR is a London-based association of the tourism offices of some 60 different nations. Its website contains contact information, including telephone numbers, for each member's tourism office, as well as useful links and information concerning tourism opportunities.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)
CLIA is the largest cruise industry trade organization in North America. Representing the interests of member cruise lines, 100 Executive Partners, and more than 14,000 travel agencies, CLIA participates in the regulatory and policy development process affecting the cruise industry. The annual CLIA-sponsored Cruise3Sixty trade show is one of the most popular cruise industry events in the country.
National Tour Association (NTA)
NTA describes itself as "the leading association for professionals serving travelers to, from and within North America." NTA members include more than 1,500 tour operators offering more than 600 destinations in 40 countries.
Association for Tourism and Leisure Education and Research
Founded in 2004, ATLAS is an association of educational institutions, research groups and individuals studying tourism and leisure travel. Operating through regional subsidiaries in Europe, Africa, the Asian-Pacific region and the Americas, ATLAS conducts research and presents seminars on a wide variety of subjects including backpacking tourism, cultural tourism, gastronomy tourism, religious tourism and pilgrimage, spa and wellness tourism and volunteer tourism.
European Technology and Travel Services Association (ETTSA)
ETTSA represents and promotes global distribution systems (GDSs) and travel distributors before relevant stakeholders in Europe. The organization is based in Brussels and supports the goals of transparency, fair competition, and consumer choice in the travel distribution chain.
The Tourism Society
The Tourism Society is a UK-based society of tourism industry professionals focused on issues concerning career development, education, and networking.
World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)
UNWTO is the United Nations organization charged with promoting sustainable, profitable international tourism. It offers sophisticated business analysis and trend prediction tools, as well as a forum for lobbying to influence international tour and travel policy. UNWTO members include 155 countries and more than 400 affiliate members representing the private sector, educational institutions, tourism associations, and local tourism authorities. Its website and downloadable reports offer a wealth of information. Sign up for its mailing list to keep on top of international news affecting the tourism and travel industry.
United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA)
USTOA is a professional trade association founded in 1972 by 10 wholesalers. Today, its members include some of the most distinguished tour operators and brands in the United States. The primary goal of the USTOA, which is based in New York, is to promote tour operator integrity.
World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC)
The WTTC is a global authority on the economic and social contribution of travel and tourism. Its members include industry leaders representing 100 of the world's foremost travel and tourism companies.