ALEXANDRIA, VA – At its meeting held last week in New Orleans, ASTA’s Board of Directors (BOD) reviewed ASTA’s current financial position with respect to targeted goals and governance with an eye to making the organization more effective in 2009. In this vein, the Board heard from ASTA staff, a review of ASTA’s membership and meetings goals, as well as individual department updates.

With respect to governance, the Board unanimously approved suggested changes to the eligibility status of those who can be elected as ASTA president and CEO so that going forward, candidates for the office must have had one year’s experience as a national director prior to serving in this position. Additionally, the Board unanimously voted that, beginning in 2009, the president and CEO shall be elected at the last regular meeting of the outgoing Board of Directors from among the national directors who will continue in office for the term beginning with the end of THETRADESHOW in the year of the election.

The Board also unanimously voted to allow the merger of the Oregon and Pacific Northwest chapters and to approve the Great Lakes Chapter as the new name for the merged Michigan and Wisconsin/UPM chapters, whose merger was approved at the Board meeting in Lyon. The mergers of these chapters both streamline operations and reduce operating costs while maintaining services for members in those regions. The Board also discussed other ways in which to strengthen ASTA’s chapter system.

A presentation on the history of ARC and its relationship with travel agents was given, as well as a history of ASTA’s new business plan, its current status and ways in which ASTA can attract more members. Board members also heard an industry update, in which leisure travel trends, the number of agents and locations that exist in the marketplace and various industry segments were analyzed.

The BOD also met with New Orleans tourism officials to learn about the recovery and how the retail community could help and received an update from ASTA’s official charity Tourism Cares.

The mission of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) is to facilitate the business of selling travel through effective representation, shared knowledge and the enhancement of professionalism. ASTA seeks a retail travel marketplace that is profitable and growing and a rewarding field in which to work, invest and do business.