Tourism Cares has brought together 12 travel industry
associations to develop and support the Destination Disaster Recovery Fund,
with the hopes of becoming the primary resource for travel and tourism-related
recovery efforts for hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
"We would like to be the Red Cross for the tourism
industry," said Mike Rea, CEO of Tourism Cares. "We will not focus on
rebuilding houses. There's billions of dollars to do that. The recovery phase,
especially for an industry like tourism, is underfunded. These destinations are
highly dependent on tourism. ... Our message is that by working together, we
can build back tourism."
The fund is being supported and promoted by the American Bus
Association, ASTA, CLIA, Destinations International, Hospitality Sales and
Marketing Association International, National Association of Career Travel
Agents, National Tour Association, Skal International USA, Southeast Tourism
Society, Student and Youth Tourism Association, U.S. Tour Operators Association
and U.S. Travel Association.
Rea said that this level of cooperation is unprecedented in
the travel industry. Additional trade groups are welcome to join.
The fund will support the three regions most affected by the
two hurricanes: the Caribbean, the Texas Gulf Coast and the hardest hit parts
of Florida. It will focus on the recovery of tourism sites and communities;
leveraging the travel industry's skills and influence; and partnering with
local organizations such as the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association and the
Texas Travel Industry Association to identify the biggest tourism-related needs.
"This is a time for the entire industry to come
together and help the recovery of these destinations and the tourism
communities they support," stated Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S.
Armed with experience in dealing with the aftermath and
impact on tourism economies of previous natural disasters, Tourism Cares has
set forth some key goals for the recovery fund: restoring valuable and
vulnerable tourism sites and attractions; investing in sustainable tourism-related
social enterprise projects; training and workforce development, especially for
displaced or temporarily unemployed workers; and promoting a return of tourism
to impacted destinations.
Early contributors to 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.
Rea would not disclose how much the fund aims to raise, but
said that he is optimistic about a high level of industry support.