Benefits of a post-hurricane donation fund

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Youth in St. Thomas benefit from a grant from the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund that teaches skills of the marine trade.
Youth in St. Thomas benefit from a grant from the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund that teaches skills of the marine trade.
Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

The Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund, established by Tourism Cares and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) after last September's hurricanes, has collected more than $275,000 in donations.

Assistance has gone to Caribbean nations and territories for training and education, restoration of tourism-related infrastructure, job creation, hotel training, voluntourism and marketing and public relations support.

"Together we are empowering destinations to build resilience," said CHTA director general and CEO Frank Comito and Tourism Cares CEO Paula Vlamings in a joint statement.

"With another hurricane season in full swing, we are grateful for the way all sectors of the travel industry came together to invest in the vulnerable people and places on which we depend," the statement said.

The fund grew out of the CHTA's One Caribbean Family initiative, a marketing program launched after hurricanes Irma and Maria to help islands' recovery efforts.

Dozens of hotel and travel companies doing business in areas of the Caribbean not directly impacted by the hurricanes contributed a portion of their booking revenues to the fund.

More than 15 grants have been approved, and more than half of the total funds raised have been passed on to hotel and tourism associations in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The fund also provided several destinations with training on how to establish effective voluntourism programs to bring visitors to assist with recovery initiatives while spending much-needed cash locally.

For skills training and employment opportunities, My Brother's Marine Workshop in St. Thomas received a grant to support the creation of a marine trade school for at-risk youth that will help at least 25 students get jobs.

Kidz at Sea on St. Maarten, a three-week boat-repair course to get students interested in waterborne activities to lead to careers in the marine industry, was another beneficiary.

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean also received funding to help create on-island jobs and to develop ecotours.

Local Area Management Authority Yacht Moorings in Dominica is leveraging the resources received to benefit residents of Soufriere-Scotts Heads. A new mooring field will enable boats to stop in these communities so that locals can offer visitors fresh produce, crafts, snorkeling and tours.

Seeds of Love in the British Virgin Islands brought 1,000 saplings and seedlings for the community to replant indigenous trees and vegetation, much of which was wiped out in the storms.

"As we continue to assess the needs of the people and the industry, the remainder will be allocated in the final phase of distribution this summer," Comito and Vlamings said.

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