Travel industry aids victims of Nepal earthquake

Photo Credit: Carl Whetham/IFRC

Tourism Cares seeks aid for long-term recovery fund

The nonprofit's CEO, Mike Rea, issued an appeal to consider the challenges facing the local tourism community following the devastating earthquakes that rocked the Himalayan kingdom in late April. Read More

As the magnitude of the Nepal earthquake continues to unfold, the travel industry is reacting by setting up fundraising initiatives for disaster relief and recovery for the victims in the area.

Below is the latest update of the services and aid being provided by travel companies worldwide. To add a listing of what your company is doing, send an email to [email protected]. The listing will be updated each night as more information becomes available.

• Adventure tour operator Journeys International is expanding its efforts to aid Nepal earthquake victims via its nonprofit Earth Preservation Fund (EPF), thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Peat Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation. Funds from the EPF are supporting the purchase and distribution of food, water, blankets, mattresses, tarps, tents and medical supplies to areas outside of Kathmandu, which are underserved by major relief organizations.

• Tour operator Friendly Planet contributed monetary assistance to Direct Relief, an international humanitarian organization founded in 1948 that provides medical assistance to people and communities in times of disasters. Direct Relief sent several shipments of essential medical items to first responders on the ground within days of the initial earthquake, including a large-scale aid airlift of additional medical supplies that was delivered the day before the second earthquake hit.

Carnival Corp. teamed with several of its global cruise brands to pledge $200,000 to relief efforts in Nepal. Carnival is working through Mercy Corps, the Disasters Emergency Committee and Save the Children to support on-the-ground teams distributing emergency supplies and aiding in rebuilding efforts to target the most affected families in Kathmandu and surrounding areas.

Carnival's support will help the three organizations provide access to food and water and shelter and hygiene supplies; support the operations of the Nepal Red Cross; and assist families in rebuilding their lives after initial life-saving needs are met.

Projects Abroad, a global company founded in 1992 that organizes short-term volunteer programs with projects in 28 countries, is calling for volunteers to help with earthquake recovery work through its Disaster Relief project. The objective of the project is to help rebuild the communities, especially schools, children's homes, hospitals and conservation areas.

Work will begin on June 1 in the Kathmandu Valley in rural and semi-urban areas that surround the city. Volunteers will be accommodated in basic housing and will be supported by full-time, local Projects Abroad local staff. Volunteers can join at any time and stay for as long as they choose for a minimum of one week.

• The PATA Foundation contributed $10,000 towards the creation of the Nepal Earthquake Tourism Recovery Fund and is inviting individuals and organizations to contribute additional money to the fund.

GeoEx Foundation, in association with the GeoEx tour operator, is collecting donations for earthquake relief efforts. Be sure to select your amount and specify "Nepal Earthquake Relief" in the "Additional Instructions About My Donation" field. GeoEx donations are tax-deductible.

Travel Corp., through its TreadRight Foundation, donated $20,000 to the Tourism Cares Nepal Recovery Fund. Other major donors include Abercrombie & Kent, CheapOair, Tripmate, MaCher, Alexander & Roberts, Cruise Planners, ASTA, Avoya Travel, Cox & Kings, White Mountain Hotel & Resort and Travel Weekly. In addition, companies including Globus and Valerie Wilson Travel are matching employee contributions.

Orbitz Worldwide has pledged up to $100,000 to match contributions made through May 6 by its customers and employees to Save the Children to aid in Nepal earthquake relief. Save the Children, which has been in Nepal since 1976, is currently delivering relief and resources for families in the hardest-hit areas of the country.

Allianz Global Assistance sent a medical team to Kathmandu to reinforce aid on site and organize the repatriation of injured tourists. The global travel insurance and travel assistance provider set up around-the-clock crisis units following the earthquake to identify customers on site, provide them with the help they need, and support their families back home, Allianz said. To provide 24-hour coverage, two crisis units have been activated in Paris and Brisbane, Australia.

• The staff at Hyatt Regency Kathmandu continues to work tirelessly since the quake struck to support guests, colleagues and community, with more than 1,000 people setting up temporary shelter on the hotel's adjacent land and grounds. Hotel staff members are also working with engineers to certify the building is safe. Once deemed safe, the hotel will host several of the international organizations responding to the quake, which plan to use the hotel and its facilities as a base for relief operations.

Hyatt has also announced a $100,000 donation to Mercy Corps in their emergency efforts to provide immediate care and long-term recovery of the affected communities. Travelers also are invited to donate their Hyatt Gold Passport points to the fundraising efforts. More information can be found here.

• Global tour operator Collette donated $25,000 to Plan International towards the disaster relief efforts in Nepal. In addition, through its Collette Foundation, the company is matching employees, travelers and travel partners up to $20,000 through May 14.

Collette also is donating $5,000 to Tourism Cares to aid in the rebuilding of Nepal and the long-term sustainability of the iconic destination.

• The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) and the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) have joined together to research how the two industry groups can best collaborate to help the long-term rebuild of Nepal's tourism and infrastructure. The groups are finalizing a recommendation for a direct industry assistance fund that supports adventure companies, guides and their families.

In the meantime, many organizations are on the ground now and ATTA and OIA have vetted several organizations that can directly impact and help Nepal now. They include the American Himalaya Foundation, which helps Tibetans, Sherpas and Nepalis by building schools, funding hospitals and training doctors; Direct Relief, which has teams on the ground throughout Nepal and is seeking donations of medical supplies, medications, personal hygiene packets and IV solutions; and Global Giving, an organization seeking donations to supply food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and materials to help rebuild shelters throughout Nepal.

American Airlines has partnered with the American Red Cross and also is offering bonus miles for donations. Through May, AAdvantage members can earn a one-time award of 250 AAdvantage bonus miles for a minimum $50 donation or 500 miles for a donation of $100 or more.

United Airlines has partnered with the American Red Cross, Americares, Airlink and Operation USA and is offering bonus miles for all donations made to these organizations. In addition, United will contribute up to $50,000 in total matching donations to all four organizations.

Overseas Adventure Travel, through its Grand Circle Foundation, has offered to match traveler donations to the American Red Cross up to $50,000. Travelers and employees have donated $172,000, and along with the $50,000 match, the company has raised $222,000 so far.

• Australia-based Intrepid Travel's nonprofit, the Intrepid Foundation, launched a $161,187 Nepal fundraising appeal, and said it received more than $40,000 within the first 24 hours of the launch. The travel company is matching traveler donations dollar-for-dollar to assist with emergency relief in Nepal, up to its target.

All donations will go directly to Plan International, a children's charity that has already sent emergency teams to respond to the needs of children and families affected by the earthquake in the Kathmandu Valley; any administration costs will be entirely funded by Intrepid.

• Canadian tour operator G Adventures launched a $100,000 aid appeal to support the long-term recovery of the affected Nepal communities. G Adventures covers all administration costs, so 100% of all donations will directly benefit the initiative.

• The Chandra Gurung Conservation Trust (CGCT), an all-volunteer organization with all funds going to Nepal, is mobilizing to channel emergency relief to rural areas hardest hit by the quake areas via credible, on-the-ground organizations. Donations will go toward securing water, food, medicine, shelters, transportation and other kinds of immediate assistance. The group has already assisted in organizing a truck with medical supplies and tents to one of the more remote villages devastated by the earthquake.

Donations are tax-deductible and can be made through the CGCT Paypal account. For more information, contact Steve Powers at [email protected].

• Vermont-based Boundless Journeys has contributed to the relief efforts in Nepal, where the adventure tour operator offers hiking and trekking trips.

Matt Holmes, founder and president, recommended the following organizations that are working to provide relief to the Nepalese people: Global Giving, an organization which helps meet immediate needs for food, fuel, clean water, hygiene products and shelter; the American Nepal Medical Foundation, which provides basic necessities, including tents, blankets, mattresses, food, chlorine tablets and oral rehydration packets to regions outside of Kathmandu; Waves for Water, a not-for-profit organization working on the frontline to provide clean water to communities in need; and One Heart World-Wide, a maternal-child health NGO working in two of the hardest hit rural districts in Kathmandu, Dhading and Sindhupaichok.

EL AL sent a team of medical experts, including 40 doctors, to Kathmandu, along with medical equipment and food to assist in the relief efforts.

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