ASATA: The Way Forward

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It’s been an interesting year for the Association of South African Travel Agents, with the departure of CEO Robyn Christie and the ASATA board plotting a new way forward, as it looks to fill Christie’s position. 

ASATA believes its role has been strengthened by the commitment of the board, which supports the new strategy of ‘Compliance, Consensus and Confidence’. 

This strategy is intended to further entrench ASATA’s commitment to the travelling public, by ensuring that the members of ASATA are compliant in terms of legislation and best global business practice. To this end, members abide by a strict code of conduct, which includes gaining consensus from industry leaders on all matters that influence the travel industry. This in turn provides the consumer with confidence when transacting with an accredited ASATA member.

ASATA Board:

President: Claude Vankeirsbilck – Chief Sales & Marketing Officer: Tourvest
Vice-President: Vanya Lessing – CEO: Sure Group
Board Member: Maria Martins – Director Programmes Management: Carlson Wagonlit
Board Member: Garth Woolf – CEO: e-Travel Group
Treasurer: James Sedgwick – Director: Sure Fishhoek Travel

The board is in the process of appointing an effective CEO to take over from Robyn Christie, who has joined Travelport as its General Manager Southern Africa. 

The Association of South African Travel Agents was formed in 1956. Its founders created a representative forum in the industry to promote professional service with security for both members and their clients. As a Section 21 Company not for profit, membership of ASATA is entirely voluntary and extends to South African retail travel agents, travel management companies and wholesalers. A partners section for those suppliers of travel-related products to the industry also exists. Currently, the membership represents more than 85% of the industry, including the head offices of most of the major brands.

ASATA’s emphasis is on free trade without violating rules and regulations. Accordingly, it has entrenched a constitution and a code of conduct that self-regulates the travel industry and provides the consumer with a benchmark and the comfort that the members are compliant with ASATA’s guidelines. As an indicator of the effect of its governance processes, more than 97% of the complaints it receives from the consumer relates to non-ASATA members.

ASATA is administered by a full-time secretariat, headed by the CEO, with the day-to-day functions being monitored by a members’ council, and its continued role and direction are guided by the board of directors. All the members of the regional committees, council and board are elected by the members at an annual general meeting.

ASATA interfaces with key opinion leaders in the industry and senior government officials in representing its members on all issues of common interest to ASATA members. This includes policy, planning, operational and regulatory issues, ensuring the ongoing sustainability of the travel industry.

ASATA’s representation includes affiliation to: Tourism Business Council of South Africa; Tourism, Hospitality & Sport Education & Training Authority; International Air Transport Association; Airline Association of Southern Africa; Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa; World Travel Agents Association Alliance; Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism; Tourism Empowerment Council of South Africa; Southern Africa Tourism Services Association; Advertising Standards Authority; Airports Company of South Africa; South African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association; and South African Tourism (SAT).

The membership base is directly related to the outbound travel market. ASATA values tourism into this country and supports the vital growth opportunities it presents for South Africa. More recently, ASATA has made every effort to distinguish travel from tourism, as its members tend to focus on fulfilling the South African traveller’s requirements. It is important to make this distinction, as the effect of bundling travel and tourism impacts training needs, statistics, service delivery and understanding the economics of the industry.

The primary focus of ASATA is directed at any issue related to improving the continued sustainability and profitability of its members, and ensuring the delivery of a professional service to the travelling consumer. This is achieved through strong relationships and open dialogue with all stakeholders.

For more information about ASATA, visit asata.co.za. You can also engage with ASATA’ social media channels to keep up with the latest industry trends.

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