NORWOOD, Mass. — In the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the North American travel and tourism industry is calling for donations to the Tourism Cares Destination Disaster Recovery Fund to speed the restoration of destinations and the livelihoods they support (tourismcares.org/disasterrecovery).
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Led by the industry’s nonprofit, Tourism Cares, the Fund supports the three regions most affected: the Caribbean, the Texas Gulf Coast and the hardest hit parts of Florida and the Keys. The Fund complements the outpouring of relief aid in three ways: focusing on the recovery of tourism sites and communities; leveraging industry talent and influence; partnering with local leaders such as the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the Texas Travel Industry Association.
“This is a time for the entire industry to come together and help the recovery of these destinations and the tourism communities they support,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.
The Fund’s program strategy will be tailored to local needs, including:
- Restoring valuable but vulnerable tourism sites and attractions
- Investing in social enterprises so that travel fully benefits those most in need
- Skills training and workforce development, especially for those displaced or temporarily out-of-work
- Building capacity for tourism and cultural nonprofits
- Promoting recovery tourism through marketing and engaging travel industry buyers
“The power of giving and the courage of communities can be greater than the disaster itself,” said Mike Rea, CEO of Tourism Cares and an expert in disaster philanthropy. “Tourism is going to play a major role in restoring the places we love, as well as livelihoods and purpose once basic needs are met. The recovery phase is long, hard and usually underfunded — together we can change that to truly have destinations build back better.”
Tourism Cares brings leadership and experience to its stewardship of the Fund: a Board of Directors that spans the industry, as well as staff expertise from the Southeast Asia Tsunami, Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and the 2015 Nepal Recovery Fund.
“Whether or not you do business in Texas, the Caribbean or Florida, it’s important to make a donation of any size,” said Don Welsh, president and CEO of Destinations International. “The increasing frequency and severity of natural disasters is a great concern to all of us — and they can happen anywhere. We need to be ready and we need to act together.”
Associations committed to spreading the word include:
- American Bus Association (Pete Pantuso)
- American Society of Travel Agents (Zane Kerby)
- Cruise Lines International Association (Cindy D’Aoust)
- Destinations International (Don Welsh)
- Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (Bob Gilbert)
- National Association of Career Travel Agents (Ann Chamberlin)
- National Tour Association (Pam Inman)
- Skål International USA (Holly Powers)
- Southeast Tourism Society (Bill Hardman)
- Student & Youth Tourism Association (Carylann Assante)
- United States Tour Operators Association (Terry Dale)
- U.S. Travel Association (Roger Dow)
These associations are coming together for the first time and represent a major share of the North American travel industry — additional association and network partners are most welcome.
Early contributors and champions of the Fund include: NYC & Company, Abercrombie & Kent Philanthropy, ADARA, Amadeus IT Group, AIG Travel, Bucuti and Tara Beach Resort, Globus, MaCher, Jordan Tourism Board North America, Shackman Associates and Robin Tauck. The Fund works in conjunction with partnerships established with the Texas Travel Industry Association and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, adding national support to their critical regional efforts.