The first ASATA meeting took place in Johannesburg on 4 September 1956. At that time, the travel business was developing at a rapid rate, and it was felt that a trade association would help protect and promote the interests of industry members and the travelling public. This was in line with what was happening in the global travel industry at the same time.
ASATA’s first priority was to standardise hotel commission rates among travel agents. To do this, the association approached the SA Hotel Association (FEDHASA) to secure standard rates of hotel commissions among travel agents. This drive for standardisation later extended to cruise liners and airlines.
Other agenda topics during this period included the role of ASATA with IATA, forming a close liaison with SAA and other airlines, service charges and the issue of charging VAT on travel products. ASATA was also instrumental in the introduction of Billing and Settlement Plans (BSP) in South Africa.
Even though ASATA was relatively small in its early days, it still managed to win concessions from the airlines, railways and government. Most notably, it helped to stabilise the travel industry for the years to come