Some travel agents in Maryland are beginning to take a somewhat
jaundiced view of a bill before the legislature whose provisions
ultimately might impose on them a $400 annual fee and could contain
bonding and insurance regulations that prove to be superfluous,
onerous or both.
We, too, have our doubts.
The measure, which would regulate travel agencies and
independent agents, is designed to protect a public that, as far as
we can tell, needs little or no protection from the retail
In a knee-jerk reaction to the singular shutdown of a Maryland
agency last year, legislators now are suggesting that the roughly
400 agencies in the state foot the cost of administering the
Ironically, while all firms in Maryland would be assessed the
estimated annual fee if one is imposed, the vast majority of them
would not be covered by the bill's bonding and insurance mandates
inasmuch as the measure specifically exempts agencies that have
operated under the same management for three years.
Moreover, most well-established firms already carry sufficient
errors and omissions coverage and hardly need the state to affirm
their financial stability.
If the Maryland legislature is truly interested in responding to
what it insists is a growing number of consumer travel complaints,
it would be better served by focusing on the schemers and scammers
who masquerade as operators.
Although we do not agree with state assistant attorney general
Rebecca Bowman when she suggests that travel agencies should be
required to post a bond even higher than the $25,000 in the bill's
current language, we can only wonder along with her when she told
Travel Weekly that she questioned whether the program was necessary