Why Travel Advisors Should Contact Their Legislators

Veteran travel advisors are urging their colleagues to reach out to their government representatives regarding the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) requirement for negative COVID-19 tests from air passengers entering the U.S., and President Joe Biden’s pandemic-related executive orders.

“I think all travel advisors need to flood their state representatives with an urgent plea to have the CDC, the State Department and Homeland Security consider the consequences of any actions that they advise the President of next week, which could have long-lasting ramifications on not only travel agencies, but also tourism as a whole in our country and other countries,” said Jennifer Doncsecz of Bethlehem, Pa.-based VIP Vacations, LLC.


“The President’s executive order gave those three departments 14 days to come up with recommendations. So time is of the essence for travel advisors to act!”

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Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats.

This week, Doncsecz has been working with Female Leaders in Travel, and drafted a letter that read, in part:

“As a travel professional, I am writing to ask that you step up against the recent CDC requirement on the testing rules for all travelers heading into the U.S. from an international destination.

“The travel industry has been hit hard and this will hit us once again with no real impact on COVID cases. We know that most resort destinations in the Caribbean have a fraction of the COVID cases that the U.S. has. It is far more likely that we are spreading the virus to other countries than the other way around.

The current CDC guidance is unclear and causing mass confusion and cancellations which is again crippling our industry. There needs to be exemptions for those who have been vaccinated. Exemptions should also be made for island destinations that require a negative COVID test to enter that also have fewer cases than most US cities!”

For Tracee Williams of Destinations in Fayetteville, Ark., it was imperative to stanch the flow of erroneous information regarding CDC restrictions and executive orders. “I first reached out to a Facebook group of travel advisors and mentioned my fears about erroneous information that I had been reading and told them I thought it was incumbent upon us to start writing letters not only to our representatives in Congress, but to the President, as well,” she said.

“I read the entire executive order and what I took away from it was that if we wanted to change the narrative, or affect the actual policy when it was finalized, our industry had to get the attention of decision makers.”

During the week of Jan. 26, Williams focused her efforts on reaching out to those on federal department committees, including the CDC, the Secretary for Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, the Secretary of Transportation, the Transportation Security Administration and the Federal Aviation Administration.

“These are the actual people the President has tasked with reviewing current policy, or suggesting changes,” she said.

For her part, Lydia Blanton of Wishing On Travel in Rockwell, N.C., is seeking ways in which to learn more about the issues and subsequently affect change on them. “The current state of affairs in this country is appalling, which is what led me to find the 62-year-old organization, National Write Your Congressman,” she said.

Blanton also plans to join ASTA. “They are the leading advocate for travel advisors, fighting our battles in congress with us, and for us,” she said. “There is power in numbers and this may be a way to help you if you’re feeling like your voice isn’t being heard as one person.”

Additionally, Blanton said organizations like ASTA and National Write Your Congressman offer many ways for agents to become engaged, “starting with easy-to-use, pre-built templates that walk you through the steps of creating an email with suggestions of what to say and who to send it to, to joining a group conference call to make your arguments,” or attending ASTA’s Legislative Day to meet face-to-face legislators in Washington, D.C.

“Don’t be afraid to get involved and write a letter or make a phone call,” Williams said. “We pay the salaries of these representatives and we have earned to right to tell them when they are killing our industry.”

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