or a state that supposedly understands
mass-market tourism, you'd think Nevada would get its head screwed
on right before it tries to regulate sellers of travel. Alas, the
state legislature didn't do that, and neither did Nevada Gov. Kenny
Guinn, who signed into law the requirement that travel sellers post
a $50,000 bond, letter of credit or CD if they are not accredited
What makes ARC so special? Good question. Apparently, there
lives on in the Nevada body politic the quaint notion that you're
not a "real travel agent" unless you have that all-important
"airline appointment." Nobody told Nevada, but those days are
It would be easy, and not wrong, to dismiss the Nevada legislation
as the well-intentioned effort of some misguided lawmakers, but
this bit of legislating underscores a question that this industry
still has to confront with solidarity: Who is a travel agent?
For years, airline accreditation was widely accepted both inside
and outside the industry as a reasonable place to draw the line.
Even today, some hotels pay commissions only to airline-accredited
agents. Can you really blame Nevada for drawing the line at the
same place where Marriott draws it?
The prime mover behind the legislation, Nevada consumer affairs
commissioner Patricia Jarman-Manning, had this to say: "We've got
people coming to Nevada, putting signs on doors saying they are a
travel agent, taking people's money and then leaving. It's unfair
to the public. I'm willing to work with the industry, but this is
an industry that hasn't done anything to police itself. There are
no requirements [to sell travel], no training for people to go
through, no consumer protection."
She overstates the case, but her remarks make clear that when a
state government asks, "Who's a travel agent," and it doesn't get a
good answer, it's perfectly capable of making up a bad one.