ASTA Unfazed over Cuba Travel
ASTA members aren’t seeing a wave of concern over travel to Cuba following last week’s State Department warning advising Americans not to travel to the island nation.
Eben Peck, ASTA senior vice president of government & public affairs, said “It would be a shame,” if the situation that triggered the State Department warning were to impact the momentum of the last few years in opening Cuba up to travel from the U.S.
Issued last week, the warning came in response to what remains a mysterious illness apparently caused by attacks on employees of the U.S. Embassy in Havana. The State Department also ordered all non-essential embassy personnel and their families to leave the country.
Peck reported a call ASTA had this week with its Government Affairs Committee in which only one committee member said a client called expressing concerns over travel to Cuba.
The association also had a couple of calls last week from ASTA members asking for advice on what to tell their clients.
“Our typical member sells eight to 10 Cuba trips a year, although we also have members who do only Cuba,” Peck noted.
“This is a serious situation and the safety of our diplomats is the number one concern,” said Peck, referring to the embassy staff’s illnesses. However, he added there have been no reports of American tourists being impacted.
As in other situations of this kind—including terrorist incidents—ASTA is advising agents to provide clients with all relevant information which clearly includes State Department advisories and warnings.
“Agents should be sharing information that’s relevant to a client’s decision-making process and advisories and warnings obviously fall into that category,” said Peck. “But it’s the client’s decision whether or not to travel.”
Agents’ liability in terms of what they need to tell clients in these kinds of situations isn’t “cut and dried,” according to Peck. “It depends on the country and the situation. State department material, however, is always material.”
According to an excerpt from ASTA’s 2017 Agency Relationships and the Law Manual, now part of the curriculum for ASTA’s new Verified Travel Advisor program:
“Agents have a duty to disclose all information known to the agent that is material to the client’s travel plans. Depending on the specific facts to be disclosed to the consumer, this duty may also be referred to as the ‘duty to inform’ or the ‘duty to warn.’
“What exactly an agent is required to disclose in any particular situation turns on what is meant by the word ‘material.’ For our purposes, ‘material’ means information that if known to the client would be reasonably likely to influence the traveler’s decision with respect to where, when, or how to travel.”
Source: Travel Pulse