Following a discussion with Travel Market Report’s publisher Anne Marie Moebes on how the State Department could better serve travel agents and their customers, the U.S. Department of State last week launched a new website dedicated to doing just that.
Designed to serve as a one-stop-shop of resources for international travel, the site, offers information about passports, travel alerts, U.S. embassies abroad, vaccinations and insurance, as well as tips for cruise passengers and what to do if you lose your passport abroad.
The State Department said it encourages travel agents to borrow what they will from the site, repost whatever information they want to share with customers, and link back to the website in case they need more information.
“Our goal is to get in touch with the travel agency community, because we know so much travel by U.S. citizens is arranged by travel agents,” William Cocks, spokesperson for the Department of Consular Affairs, told TMR. “We wanted to organize the information we provide in a way that’s easy and navigable, as a one-stop-shop with all our links in one place. Our goal is to get the information out the public, so travel agents can use it in any way that’s useful to help their clients.”
Cocks noted that 2017 “continues to be a record-setting year for passport applications,” which normally take about six weeks to process. Ahead of the crunch, some passport offices will be open for extended hours during the week and on weekends—but “we want people to understand we are in a high-volume period, this is the crunch year, and we are getting into the summer travel season. So if you need to travel over the summer and have had a passport for nine years, now is a great time to renew.”
ASTA president & CEO Zane Kerby praised the site, saying it “commends the State Department for creating this resource for agencies and their clients and for recognizing the critical role that travel agents play in today’s travel ecosystem. We look forward to building on our strong relationship with the State Department’s leadership to use this and other resources to ensure that Americans traveling abroad are informed and protected before, during and after their trips.”