3 Ways the Hospitality Industry is Helping Hurricane Maria and Irma Victims

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Royal Caribbean sent the fully provisioned Majesty of the Seas to the U.S Virgin Islands.

Among the many humanitarian and fundraising efforts, here are three examples of how the hospitality industry is helping Hurricane Maria and Irma victims.

Royal Caribbean Diverts Ships & Transports Evacuees

After Hurricanes Maria and Irma, the cruise industry was in a position to make an immediate difference, and all the major lines (Carnival Cruise Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line) scrambled to assist. Royal Caribbean immediately mobilized the Adventure, Majesty and Empress of the Seas to provide provisions and help with evacuation efforts. The Adventure of the Seas was escorted into St. Maarten to deliver essentials such as water, ice, batteries, medical supplies and garbage bags, and then took 320 stranded tourists with them to the ABC Islands. The at-the-time empty Majesty of the Seas, fully provisioned and full of fuel, was allocated to the U.S. Virgin Islands. “We worked with the governor to bring in provisions and use the ship to feed and care for first responders,” President and CEO Michael Bayley told Good Morning America. The ship then boarded travelers stuck there to bring them safely home. In the hard-hit Florida Keys, the Empress of the Seas was the first cruise ship to sail back into Key West, where bars and restaurants were open for business but starving for visitors.

Adventure of the Seas is currently scheduled to sail from St. Croix on September 29 with 750 evacuees, and will leave St. Thomas on September 30, with up to 200 evacuees from St. John and 50 from St. Thomas. Adventure of the Seas is also assisting with Puerto Rico evacuees.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, which includes Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises, has also set up a web site for donations, and will match donations up to $1 million to aid Hurricane Relief efforts.

Caribbean Tourism Organizations Rally

The Caribbean Tourism Organization has established the CTO Relief Fund for relief efforts in its member countries affected by the hurricanes, including St. Martin/St. Maarten, Dominica, Puerto Rico, the British Virgin Islands and the U.S Virgin Islands. The Go Fund Me site has a goal of $100,000 goal, and all money collected will be disbursed directly to these ministries of tourism.

The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association has partnered with Tourism Cares to establish the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund. In a joint statement about the newly established fund, they said: “Economic recovery depends on restoring the industry for a region that hosts millions of visitors and whose economy is heavily dependent on travel and tourism. Our efforts bring the tourism industry together to leverage our collective resources, expertise, influence and compassion.”

United Airlines Pitches In

United Airlines has established a CrowdRise fundraising site for victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. United MileagePlus members who donate a minimum of $50 to any one of the charitable partners listed (including the American Red Cross and Humane Society International) will receive up to 1,000 bonus miles. So far the airline has committed over 7 million bonus miles to customers and matched $300,000 in donations.

In addition, United has flown relief flights for those affected by Hurricane Irma in conjunction with MillerCoors, delivering tens of thousands of cans of water to local airports. The airline worked with officials throughout Florida to support recovery efforts there, and in Houston donated its hangar at Houston Intercontinental to FEMA for 90 days to use for military and law enforcement operations.

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Barbara Scofidio
Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.

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