As a member of the tourism industry, whether you’re a tour operator or a travel agent, you may be wondering how you can grow your network, find new clients or partners, and stay up-to-date on trends. Tourism industry associations offer a myriad of benefits to professionals and companies in the hospitality and tourism sector.
In this article, we’ll introduce a list of tourism industry registration associations and describe their missions and membership benefits. Some of these organizations have a regional focus, while others focus on a specific niche of the industry, so you can find an association that’s a good fit.
Council of Australian Tour Operators (CATO)
CATO focuses specifically on the tourism sector in Australia – both domestic and outbound travel. The organization regularly hosts networking events, holds educational sessions, and publishes research on Australian travel trends. Each year, CATO recognizes standout Australian travel agents at the annual CATO Awards.
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CATO offers two types of membership: Full Membership, which is for tour operators, and Associate Membership, which is for suppliers and tourism offices. All tour operators that seek CATO membership must hold ATAS accreditation.
Membership fees range from $1100AUD to $4950AUD per year depending on company size.
European Tour Operators Association (ETOA)
This organization works toward advancing the tourism industry throughout Europe, and its members include not only tour operators and travel agents, but also destination marketing organizations, hotels, and attractions.
The ETOA has worked on projects related to sustainability, visas, and taxes, and the organization has over 1200 members. ETOA’s annual events include the Global European Marketplace, the European Tourism Summit, and the China European Marketplace. ETOA also participates in ITB Berlin and WTM London tourism conferences.
Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA)
PATA seeks to advance the travel and tourism industry in the Asia Pacific region with a focus on sustainable, responsible development. The non-profit organization includes hundreds of member organizations and over 30 local chapters – plus many youth chapters on college campuses.
Members enjoy access to networking events, webinars, research and trend reports, and the member directory. Events include the annual PATA Gold Awards, which recognizes leaders and projects in the Asia Pacific tourism industry. Members can also serve on a variety of committees which focus on niches like aviation and human capital development.
Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA)
This non-profit organization aims to provide credibility, value, and authority to the tourism industry in Southern Africa. SATSA members can enjoy the credibility that comes with the SATSA name, networking opportunities, and relationships with various vendors and services. The organization hosts an annual conference that includes a golf day, networking events, and panel discussions.
SATSA maintains a member directory of only the highest quality tourism companies and suppliers, so the membership application can be intensive. Find the membership application here.
Membership fees range from R6,779 to R47,456 depending on company size.
Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC)
Promoting all things Canada, TIAC represents and serves the country’s travel and tourism sector. The organization focuses on sustainable tourism development, government advocacy, and networking between tourism companies and professionals. TIAC has recently secured funding for the Destination Canada brand and dedicated millions of dollars to Aboriginal Tourism and efforts to gather tourism-related data.
TIAC members include individuals and companies, and annual membership fees range from $150 to $5,000. The membership application can be found here.
United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA)
USTOA is the United States’ leading tourism industry organization, and its members represent over 10 million travelers. The organization promotes travel within the United States and abroad, fosters trust within the industry, protects members from financial damages, and provides educational opportunities.
Membership is available to both service providers (Associate Members) and tour operators (Active Members).
Associate membership costs $950 per year, and Active Membership costs between $4,800 and $13,800 per year. You can find the membership application here.
Find more information on USTOA’s website.
Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA)
ATTA brings together over 1,300 companies and professionals who work in the adventure tourism industry, The organization offers networking opportunities, workshops, advocacy projects, and partnership with like-minded groups including the World Wildlife Fund and the Outdoor Industry Organization. ATTA also runs an internship program and provides financial support to causes that relate to adventure travel.
Three membership types are available: Community (free for individuals), Professional ($99 per year for individuals), and Business (between $600 and $100 per year for companies). Business members include accommodation providers, gear suppliers, industry partners, and tour operators. ATTA’s membership application is available here.
Coach Tourism Association (CTA)
CTA focuses on a specific segment of the tourism industry: coach travel. This organization promotes coach travel, offers educational workshops, fosters trust between travelers, suppliers, and operators.
Membership is available to both suppliers and operators, and members can enjoy networking opportunities, access to CTA’s annual conference, and a free listing in the CTA handbook. Apply online here.
European Network for Accessible Tourism (ENAT)
With the goal of making European travel accessible to everyone, ENAT promotes accessibility-related topics and initiatives in various segments of the travel industry. Some recent projects include accessibility training programs for rural European areas, a virtual reality pilot for tourist guides, and a human resources development program in the Czech Republic.
Membership fees range from €350 to €500 for corporate memberships, while individual memberships cost between €100 and €350. The membership application is found here, and all new members are considered “associate members” until they submit a formal application for “full member” status.
Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC)
GSTC’s primary focus is creating and maintaining sustainability standards for the travel industry, including for tour operators, hotels, destinations, certification organizations, and travelers. The organization hosts educational events on topics like food waste and recycling and holds at least one global tourism conference each year.
Members gain access to training sessions, webinars, events, and networking opportunities, and both individual and corporate memberships are available. Fees range from $100 annually for individual members to $3,000 for corporate members.
By joining a tourism industry organization, you or your company can enjoy fantastic networking opportunities, exciting events, and engaging educational workshops that focus on your region or niche. Membership in one of these organizations also gives your tour operator business plan an extra layer of credibility, which shows that potential customers and guests can trust you. Though some membership fees may seem steep, the marketing exposure, network, and stamp of approval from these organizations can deliver significant return on investment for you and your business. Have we missed an organization that you belong to? We’d love to hear about it.
Are you a tour operator? Check our post about tour operator software, it may be interesting for you.
Adrienne Fors is the founder of Strategic Stays, a consultancy specializing in tech solutions and copywriting for short-term rental businesses and boutique hotels. She was previously a Market Manager at Expedia, and she graduated from the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University. Adrienne is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota and enjoys traveling and playing tennis.