Bringing travel industry together to enrich and empower destinations in need
Bob Whitley Memorial Fund pledges gift in full show of support
Abercrombie & Kent donates Egypt and Myanmar luxury travel
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Dec. 5, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Tourism Cares announced today its Global Impact Portfolio, a multifaceted, multi-country effort to preserve, enrich, and empower World Heritage destinations and local communities emerging from crisis and reopening to tourism. Tourism Cares will marshal the resources and insights available to the global travel industry to make timely financial grants, organize skilled and professional volunteers, enhance the visibility and awareness of iconic destinations, and facilitate exchanges of ideas to positively impact sites and communities. Based on the belief that, when taken together, travel and philanthropy are a powerful force for change, the fund will prioritize Egypt and Myanmar in 2014. Companies and foundations interested in supporting the fund are encouraged to contact Tourism Cares immediately.
"Egypt and Myanmar need our philanthropy and partnership, almost as much as our business," said Mike Rea, the new CEO of Tourism Cares. Rea, previously of The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is a respected social entrepreneur and disaster relief specialist who co-founded Give2Asia in 2000, which has facilitated more than $237 million in philanthropy from the U.S. to Asia. "The time to engage is now. We can do much more together, as an industry, to ensure these vital, extraordinary places are intact for the future and are engines of pride and prosperity for all. We must act responsibly today."
The announcement was made at the annual conference of the United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA) in Scottsdale, with a gift from the Bob Whitley Memorial Fund, created to honor the late industry legend. In an enthusiastic show of support, Abercrombie & Kent, the luxury adventure travel pioneer with a strong legacy of philanthropy, will donate seats on one of its award-winning Nile River cruises and on a vessel custom-built for Myanmar's Irrawaddy River that is now in production.
Tourism Cares is active and on the ground in Egypt and Myanmar. A global task force has been formed and a cadre of accomplished, networked advisors, immersed in the local social, political, and economic landscapes of both countries is in place. In Egypt, where tourist arrivals have plummeted since 2011 but are expected to eventually resume, the new fund will start by helping to preserve an underappreciated, iconic World Heritage destination and provide hospitality training for the disadvantaged. In Myanmar, where three million tourists are expected in 2015, according to Quartz, Tourism Cares will support heritage protection, help at-risk youth develop skills and participate in the tourism economy, and invest in local social businesses. Tourism Cares will also contribute ideas and thought to the new and rapidly evolving dialogue on corporate social responsibility and tourism.
Other destinations shortlisted for interventions include Haiti and Cuba, as well as the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.
"Tourism Cares understands the dual urgency of investing in heritage and social justice," said Dr. Barbara Ibrahim, director of the John D. Gerhart Center for Philanthropy and Civic Engagement at the American University in Cairo. "Unemployment, poverty, and upheaval shut the disadvantaged out. But Egypt is for all Egyptians. As travel to Egypt resumes, heritage tourism must be responsible, sensitive, and inclusive, and local communities must be integrated in the recovery."
Added Rea: "Tourism has a catalytic, inspirational role to play in the development of societies. As an industry, we can—and want—to share our knowledge and resources. We can help local communities sustainably steward and benefit from their heritage. Join us and give back to destinations that have transformed us as travelers and have grown our industry."
Tourism Cares is grateful to vital partners Delta Air Lines and Travel Weekly; Travel Market Report, which has donated a portion of its advertising revenue to the fund; and Robin Tauck, co-owner of Tauck World Discovery and founder of Tauck World of Giving. In 2014 Tourism Cares will announce how industry professionals can win seats on Abercrombie & Kent Egypt and Myanmar cruises.
About Tourism Cares
Tourism Cares preserves and enhances the travel experience for future generations.
We channel the philanthropic passion and commitment of the travel industry to protect and restore valuable destinations we all care about—and to support those destinations as engines for prosperity, civil society, and pride in their communities. Our domestic programs focus on industry-wide volunteer events, capacity building for the nonprofit stewards of tourism sites, and scholarships and mentoring to support a talented workforce. Globally, our efforts include corporate social responsibility partnerships, strategic investments, and advocacy and education across the travel industry. For more: TourismCares.org.
SOURCE Tourism Cares