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ASTA Responds to RCI’s Plan

ASTA Responds to RCI’s Plan ( Alexandria, Va., Sept. 28, 2007— Responding to RCI’s announcement that it will eliminate travel agent commissions on airline bookings made through the cruise line, ASTA expressed its concern and displeasure with the new plan. The new policy applies to Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Cruises and is slated to take effect on air bookings made on or after Nov. 1, 2007.

RCI had been paying five percent on airline bookings made in conjunction with cruise sales. The decision follows Carnival Corp.’s announcement that commissions will be eliminated on air bookings made through Carnival, Costa, Cunard, Holland America, Princess and Seabourn cruise lines.

“Recent feed back from agents has been more than just disappointing. Agents have pointed out that while domestic usage was low and dropping, foreign airfares are another matter. With international cruising becoming increasingly popular and lucrative to cruise lines, complex international airfares are neither easily nor readily available,” stated William Maloney, CTC, ASTA executive vice president and COO.

“These cruises will be hurt as agents and clients shift in search of more dependable and affordable air. Cruise lines who still offer competitive, commissionable air will see an increase in market share. The cruise lines must reexamine these situations. Not all sailings are from Florida or domestic drive-to ports,” added Maloney.

Much like Carnival Corp.’s decision to eliminate travel agent air commissions, this policy change by RCI does not represent a financial disaster for ASTA members; however, it does strike at their potential earnings which can only be viewed as a negative factor in cruise/travel agent relationships. ASTA will continue to address such decisions on behalf of its members, who hold a critical place within the cruise industry.

The mission of the American Society of Travel Agents and its affiliated organizations is to enhance the professionalism and profitability of members worldwide through effective representation in industry and government affairs, education and training, and by identifying and meeting the needs of the traveling public.

Contact: Kristina Rundquist/Sarah Wilhite 703-739-8710

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