...the travel and tourism industry has shown throughout the pandemic – the one crisis that has spared nobody – that selflessness prevails even when individuals and organisations are struggling for survival themselves
Does the tourism industry not deserve any joy? It sure feels that way. Our battle with Covid-19 is not yet over, and travel is only just starting to pick up, but there goes Russia mounting an invasion into Ukraine, scuppering plans by Asian destinations to rebuild arrivals through the long-staying, sun-loving Russian holidaymakers.
My correspondent, Raini Hamdi, wrote a lengthy analysis on how the Ukraine-Russian conflict is hurting Asia’s tourism. ForwardKeys data showed a spike in flight cancellations to and from Russia following the attack.
But it is here that I arrest my negativity. You see, it is far easier to see the bad side of things – humans are hard-wired this way, unfortunately, according to psychologists.
Amid the frustrations and despair arising from the Ukraine-Russian conflict, the travel and tourism industry has offered a sliver of light and love to affected communities and colleagues.
Since February 26, Royal Caribbean International has been helping an estimated 500 Ukrainian crew members to return home or get close to home should they wish to leave their contracts early, as well as with counselling. The same help is extended to its Russian crew who are emotionally affected by the conflict.
US-headquartered Sabre, one of the major global travel distribution systems, donated US$1 million to the Polish Red Cross, while Singapore-based Frasers Property has done the same with a contribution of S$100,000 (US$73,332) via Singapore Red Cross. In addition, the latter has called on employees, partners and friends to join its fundraising campaign to gather more financial aid.
It isn’t just the big corporations that are coming forward with help. Individuals are too.
PKF Hospitality Group’s Michael Widmann and Christian Walter as well as Bench Events’ Jonathan Worsley have formed the Hospitality-Helps.org to secure room contributions from hotels operating in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic to house fleeing Ukrainians.
Poland-based Insight Vacations tour guide Tim Pendlebury has joined in too, donating his time and energy to pick up Ukrainian families crossing the Poland-Ukraine border into safety. He has also set up a fundraiser on Facebook to support Polish charity, Caritas Polska, which is helping Ukrainians arriving at the border.
I’m sure there are far more heart-warming stories like these out there, as the travel and tourism industry has shown throughout the pandemic – the one crisis that has spared nobody – that selflessness prevails even when individuals and organisations are struggling for survival themselves.