Regulations for national travel agencies established

This Monday, the Ministry of Tourism (MINTUR) issued Resolution 132/2021, which establishes the Regulation of National Travel Agencies, a measure that establishes norms and requirements to regulate the activity of these economic actors.

Within its articles it is clear that such agencies are the only ones authorized to, among other things, represent foreign travel agencies or tour operators, mediate in the reservation of rooms, transportation or extra-hotel services, design and commercialize tourist and optional packages, sell reservations for cultural centers and activities, and even process visa extensions. 

Another of the activities listed as exclusive to these agencies is the hiring and service of tour guides. This is somehwat bittersweet news since at the end of May, Oniel Diaz, founder of AUGE Consulting, commented as good news the fact that “colleagues who have been promoting for weeks with tremendous force that the activity of Tour Guides is not included in the List of Prohibited Activities for Self-Employed Work just received yesterday this response from the Ministry of Labor and Social Security.”

The reply of the aforementioned ministry, dated May 20, explained that “with the new Economic-Social Strategy to boost the country’s economy, in order to promote local development and productive linkages between the state sector and non-state management forms, the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, together with the Ministry of Tourism, is analyzing and evaluating the pertinence or otherwise of the exercise of this activity and others related to the tourism sector.”

The strange thing is that, although it is not within the prohibitions for self-employed workers, the guides must be associated with the agencies. The positive aspect appears when the Resolution stipulates that new travel agencies may be created, only that they require the prior approval of the Minister of Tourism and, in addition, they must submit a request for authorization for their creation.

This dossier must contain several documents: justification of the request, description of the activity that the travel agency intends to carry out, a draft of the articles of association (very similar to the structure used in non-agricultural cooperatives) and an economic feasibility study. 

Finally, Resolution 132/2021 includes in its second chapter details on representation, assistance and tourist services, and among them it is clear that branches and representatives of foreign travel agencies contract all services through national agencies, except for accommodation capacities, which may be undertaken directly.

Such regulations will become effective 30 days after their publication in the Official Gazette (June 7, 2021).    

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