SAN FRANCISCO -- California travel companies will pay $95 per location this year to the Travel Consumer Restitution Corp. (TCRC), the state's fund for consumers who have lost money due to bankruptcies or other failures of registered travel firms.

The fee is actually two fees in one, with $35 going to fund the administration of the TCRC and $60 going to restitution. There currently is $1.2 million in the fund.

The TCRC is a major part of the state's controversial Seller of Travel Law, which took effect three years ago and expires at the end of 1998.

The future of the law is uncertain, however, because the California Coalition of Travel Organizations is discussing with the attorney general's office ways to make the program less burdensome to travel agents.

ARTA has been one of the most vocal critics of the law: Its leaders in California oppose the concept of an industry-sponsored restitution fund. If the law is not reenacted this year, it will expire and the TCRC will be dissolved, with the $1.2 million redistributed to companies who made contributions.

The 1998 fees -- the last fees to be levied if the law is not reenacted -- were determined by the TCRC board in early January.

Diane Embree, TCRC chairman, said the fee is based on the number of registered firms in the state and the amount needed to raise the fund from the previous year's balance to $1.2 million, the amount required by law.

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