By Tourism Cares CEO, Mike Rea
I was contacted this week by the chairman of a Dominica resort wanting to donate monthly to help after Hurricane Irma, and by the time we connected on a call, conditions worsened and he had to rush off to prepare for Maria. I’ve not heard from him since.
These are tragic days. Three major hurricanes, plus floods and earthquakes. Thousands dead; the health and livelihoods of millions threatened. Entire geographies destroyed. Unspeakable hardship for people and places we love, separated through tourism by far less than seven degrees.
Today is also about inspiration. Courage. Immense empathy and selflessness. Tourism Cares is a US nonprofit organization, but it is so much more. It is love activated, from this singularly human industry--through you.
On behalf of the members, staff and directors of our community, it is my privilege to share your updates:
LOCAL PARTNERS + DESTINATIONS:
o The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) has a robust hurricane information center and together we’re starting to formulate investment approaches for the Caribbean, home to 2.4 million tourism jobs and with travel contributing to more than 80% of GDP for some islands.
o The Texas Travel Industry Association (TTIA) is our eyes and ears in the wake of Harvey, and we’ll be at their upcoming state Summit (Oct 2-4); in part we’ll discuss the plight and recovery of Port Aransas, so powerfully conveyed in this article.
o We’re also in touch with the Greater Miami CVB and looking to connect with the hard-hit Keys and Homestead regions. The Keys aim to be partially back in business by October 20, and Visit Florida is helping the tourism economy resume, with travel itself the best gift anyone can give.
GIVING TOGETHER: Sincere thanks to all those giving to the Destination Disaster Recovery Fund and spreading the word. Together we will leverage financial, network and media resources that no one else can or will. Special gratitude to AIG Travel for its $25,000 investment, as well as NYC & Company, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort, Amadeus and the US Travel Association. While Tourism Cares’ 2018 volunteering program will be announced soon, one way to get dirty and involved now is with our national parks and their volunteer drive. And for a trusted relief option, check out member and longtime impact-maker the Sandals Foundation.
SHARING WITH THE TRAVELING PUBLIC – AND COMBINING FORCES FOR GOOD: Of course, we are not alone in our love of destinations – our clients care at least as much as we do. Our call to action has been picked up in AFAR’s spot-on article; Arnie Weissmann has invited companies to engage clients; and tourism’s care has been seen in the New York Times and an Associated Press story picked up by the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle and others.
AN INDUSTRY UNITES: Our community spans the industry thanks in large part to 14 leading associations that have come together to spread the word and also create their own giving portals (ABA and ASTA) to focus and track their members' and partners' giving.
INDUSTRY CHAMPIONS IN GIVING: Companies also give powerfully individually, and we have been overwhelmed by the inspiring examples our community has shared. Please search on #TourismResponds for the latest and keep an eye out for a blog post with stories from across the world.
Let’s pray that going forward we talk far more about inspiration, impact and recovery. Continue to give well. Continue to give together; share your stories with #TourismResponds.