An Open Letter on Nepal

Dear friends of Tourism Cares and of Nepal:

As professionals and as humans, we, along with so many others worldwide, have been touched by the terrible disaster in Nepal.  Many of us have personal and professional connections to that special place, and I visited Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and other sites back in 1989.
We all want to help and to make a difference, and it is an honor to be a part of the Tourism Cares community today.  Your response has been humbling and inspiring; please check our social media channels for the latest.
Today, I offer some reflections from our community as the situation evolves.
The fast and committed flow of relief support is remarkable. Our world is increasingly accustomed to responding quickly, with incredible compassion and philanthropy when disaster strikes. Today, travel leads the way.  PEAK Adventure Travel’s Intrepid Foundation quickly raised AUS$100,000 (which it matched) for PLAN International, and G Adventures raised >C$120,000 for Planeterra.  Myriad other companies and members have shared their support of the Red Cross, Mercy Corps, Shelter Box and others. We will be surveying the industry’s response soon and sharing the results.
Consider “Diversified Disaster Giving.” As you plan your giving to Nepal, think about diversifying your charitable investments, just as you would a financial portfolio.  Based on lessons from the Southeast Asia Tsunami, here are some ideas to consider: give to recovery as well as reliefsupport local organizations as well as large multinational ones; and reserve some of your giving for later, say 6 months from now, when the recovery landscape will be far clearer.
The tourism industry will actively invest in tourism as a driver of recovery, via our Nepal Recovery Fund.  We are one option among many for targeting recovery, one we feel has very strong leverage, where we can bring to bear our voice, influence and talent, as well as funding.  Together we have special and unique resources to drive the recovery.  We are in touch with local tourism and development advisors who will help us understand the situation as it evolves, with an eye to smart investments in the recovery of the industry, its jobs, and its benefits for Nepal and for visitors.
Any amount of giving can make a major difference. By making targeted, aligned investments in local responses, we can change people’s lives.  I know this first hand, from a small grant for a culinary and hospitality training program run by the Chef’s Guild of Sri Lanka in 2005: its 100 participants from impoverished fishing villages found lifelong careers that have fundamentally changed their prospects and created benefits for their families, as well as helping tourism.  In Nepal, we will be guided by local tourism needs, for professionals and for the destination. We expect strong results and impact.
There is hope for tourism for Nepal. Even during this crisis, and even as Nepal faces challenges to vital tourism flows, there is reason to hope: in the compassion of travelers giving with their bookings; the resiliency of wanderlust; and the potential for ever new experiences in Nepal.  Speaking again for regions hit by the Southeast Asia Earthquake & Tsunami, such as Thailand and Sri Lanka, we know tourism and communities can and do recover from unprecedented disaster.  Intact. Vibrant.  Compelling. Familiar.  Yet also imbued, for a time, with tragedy – and the care of millions worldwide.
Thank you for your care for Nepal, and please contact us with ideas as well as questions.
Best wishes,

Mike Rea