NEW YORK -- As the
horror of Katrina unfolded last week, the travel industry reacted
quickly to set up fundraising initiatives for disaster relief and
recovery for the victims in the Gulf Coast.
By press time, more
than 50 organizations, associations, trade groups, hotel firms and
individual properties, tourism boards, visitor bureaus, cruise
lines, airlines and car rental companies had stepped to the plate
with offers of assistance, and more were coming in at a fast
The efforts ranged
from financial contributions from the proceeds of garage sales and
online auctions to offers of free housing, SUVs and buses, even
donations of frequent flyer miles and hotel guest award
including Northstar Travel Media, parent company of Travel Weekly
and other publications, are collecting and matching employee
donations to the American Red Cross for hurricane
American (www.aa.com), Continental (www.continental.com/onepass/oDonateMiles.asp), and
United (www.united.com) are awarding bonus miles to their
frequent flyer members who contribute to relief
Continental and United are each donating one million miles to help
meet the travel needs of relief workers.
Air Tran Airways
provided links on its Web site (www.airtran.com) to allow users to access the
sites of the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army.
Auto Europe is
pledging $5 for each booking made by a travel agent through Dec. 31
toward a relief fund for agents in need
of assistance in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
ASTA established a
hurricane help page at www.astanet.com/hurricane help, where ASTA
members in need of assistance can have their requests posted.
Sandals is donating
funds to the Red Cross on behalf of Katrina victims, as is La
Quinta Hotels (www.lq.com), while Starwood Hotels (www.starwoodhotels.com) has also set up a relief
The National Tour
Association set up a Hurricane Katrina Update page on its Web site
(www.ntaonline.com) for its members and helped provide
motorcoaches to evacuate victims from New Orleans.
Hilton Hotels set
up a program for members of its Hilton HHonors guest reward program
to donate points in increments of 10,000, which represents a $25
donation, to the American Red Cross, by E-mailing [email protected].
The Aruba Hotel and
Tourism Association will donate the proceeds from an island-wide
garage sale organized by the hotels and members of the tourism
community. Similar initiatives are under way by the Cayman Islands
Tourism Association and the U.S. Virgin Islands Hotel & Tourism
Rent-A-Car, which estimated that 30 of its 77 branches in the New
Orleans and Gulf Coast area were destroyed or severely damaged,
donated $1 million to the Red Cross.
To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers,
send e-mail to [email protected].