Travel trade rallies to the aid of the Philippines

SUPER typhoon Haiyan’s devastation of the Philippines has tugged at the heartstrings of the global tourism industry and prompted an outpouring of support and relief efforts from all corners.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has relayed its readiness to support tourism-related recovery programmes to be designed for the affected areas (TTG Asia e-Daily, November 12, 2013), and is calling on the industry to support the Philippines through donating to the relief efforts of UN agencies operating on the ground.

The PATA Foundation has pledged an initial US$10,000 in disaster relief, contacted local and national tourism officials to offer assistance, set up an online appeal to raise funds and briefed the Asian Wall Street Journal on the need to maintain business confidence in the Philippine tourism sector.

The Travel Corporation has committed S$25,000 (US$20,000) worth of aid, while major hotel operator Hyatt Hotels has announced a US$50,000 donation and pledges to match a further US$25,000 in donations.

El Nido Resorts, which operates four resorts in Palawan, the Philippines, is deploying resources to distribute canned food, rice, towels, clothes, water and other relief goods to the residents of the neighbouring municipality of Taytay in Palawan.

Victims displaced by the typhoon can also turn to Singapore-based vacation rental site PandaBed, who is giving out US$5,000 in the form of Relief Credits for bookings of PandaBed properties in the Philippines. Users only need show a scanned copy of the IDs of staying guests to show they were living in the disaster zone, and a short testimonial on how they were affected by the typhoon.

From the aviation industry, Japan Airlines (JAL), United Airlines, AirAsia and Air Astana are a few of the airlines that have come forward to render support.

JAL has donated 10 million yen (US$100,231) and Kazakh airline Air Astana, US$30,000.

Donations from United Airlines employees and customers have topped more than US$850,000, while AirAsia has launched a multi-tiered campaign called To Philippines with Love, which includes the collection of cash donations on flights, in airports, and via the AirAsia Foundation microsite.

JAL and United Airlines are offering passengers bonus mileage in exchange for donations, while AirAsia and JAL are providing free cargo space for relief supplies and free flights for accredited NGOs, aid and humanitarian agencies.

AirAsia is setting aside another 250,000 free seats for Filipinos abroad to return home, available for booking from November 18 to 24. Guests, who must possess valid Filipino ID, pay only for applicable fees.

Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean Cruises, for whom Filipinos are the largest nationality represented across its six cruise lines, has set up a central communications point where Filipino employees can receive assistance in reaching their families. The cruise operator will also match donations from employees and is partnering World Vision to provide broader help.

Those interested in contributing to the recovery of the Philippines may do so through the PATA Foundation (not available to Singapore residents); through Mercy Malaysia; and the Singapore Red Cross Society, among others.

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