How is the Travel Industry Helping Haiti?
It is with heavy hearts that we at the Window Seat have been watching the coverage of the disaster in Haiti. Political instability, economic poverty, and a series of natural disasters have kept many would-be tourists from experiencing the rich culture and beautiful shores of this small country–but this has not kept the travel industry from responding with donations and acts of charity. Here’s how a few travel companies have stepped up to help.
Travelocity: As of Tuesday, 1/19, Travelocity/Sabre Holdings and its employees have already committed $30,000 to relief efforts.
Royal Caribbean International: One of the only major cruise lines to have consistently visited Haiti as a port of call (they own a private island that employs several locals and have been one of the major investors in foreign tourism in Haiti over the past 30 years), Royal Caribbean has teamed up with three charity relief organizations to provide aid to victims in Port-Au-Prince. The company pledges to provide at least $1 million in humanitarian relief, and will also be providing supplies (dried beans, powdered milk, water, canned goods, and other supplies) via their cruise ships. In an effort to continue the flow of money into the local economy, they have also promised to continue visiting their Haitian port of call (a move that is generating controversy for its juxtaposition of sun-tanning tourists enjoying the beach with the devastation not too far away). The cruise line will also allow passengers to donate to Haiti relief efforts through their shipboard accounts.
Starwood Hotels: The Starwood Preferred Guest program will allow customers to donate their Starpoints to the American Red Cross and will match all donations through February 15, 2010.
Best Western Hotels: Best Western Rewards® members can contribute rewards points to the relief effort, starting with as little as 5,000 points. Points donations will be funneled through World Vision, Best Western’s official charity partner.
Other hotels that are allowing guests to donate points include: Hilton, Choice, Marriott, and Wyndham.
American Airlines: Through February 28, 2010, AAdvantage members can earn a one-time award of 250 bonus miles for a minimum $50 donation, or 500 bonus miles for a donation of $100 or more to the American Red Cross.
United Airlines: The United Airlines Foundation will match up to a total of $50,000 to the American Red Cross in donations made through their links on their relief page. They are also allowing customers to donate Mileage Plus® miles to the American Red Cross, Operation USA, or Airline Ambassadors through its Charity Miles program.
Continental Airlines: The airline will allow customers to donate their OnePass miles to their choice of several charitable organizations. According to their website at 11:30am Monday, over 333,648,367 miles had already been donated.
Delta Airlines: Their website has a list of SkyWish charities to which you can donate your airline miles, including the American Red Cross’s Haiti Disaster Relief Effort.
This is only a partial list–I’m sure there are many more travel companies that are out there and helping. If you know about any that aren’t in this list, please let us know in the comments section!
And if you want to help, you can click here to make a donation.
My name: Rachel Berg.
Favorite way to get around: By Venetian gondola during starlit high tide, gliding past decaying and slightly spooky palaces, with perhaps a bottle of prosecco placed between the gondola seat cushions.
View that took my breath away: Unable to sleep in the mystical city of Sfat in Israel, I wandered outdoors predawn and was treated to a purple-on-purple sunrise below the mountaintop that seemed to emerge feet-first through ground-level clouds.
Greatest travel lesson learned: Sunny weather isn't everything. Some of my best travel memories involve go-karting through a deluge turned mud-fest in Mexico, drinking tea in the cold Denali tundra, and watching electric thunderstorms roll through national parks out West.
Most challenging travel moment: Getting leveled by altitude sickness in Cuzco and realizing that my body was forcing me to slow down and rest despite the fact that there was so much to do and see.
Travel ambition: To see the northern lights.