Last updated: 04:00 PM ET, Thu March 03 2016

How Travel Is Helping To Rebuild Fiji

Features & Advice | Barry Kaufman | March 03, 2016

How Travel Is Helping To Rebuild Fiji

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji with the lethal force of category five winds on Feb. 20, 2016, claiming at least 42 lives and creating a path of destruction across this tranquil South Pacific nation. The heartbreaking devastation from the storm left thousands homeless, and wreaked untold damage to the country’s thriving tourism trade.

But thankfully, the travel trade is one of nearly bottomless generosity and community spirit, and some of the industry's most prominent figures are helping to rebuild, with a declaration that Fiji is open for business and ready to receive travelers again.

One such organization is the Ocean Futures Society, which set up an emergency fund here from which 100 percent of the proceeds go to areas of the Jean-Michael Cousteau Fiji Resort JMC Dive Center and villages of Nukubalavu and Nacekoro. You can also click here to give to Sea Mercy and Yacht Aid’s Fiji Relief Fund, which is funding a fleet of vessels delivering crucial disaster response and medical aid. A local destination management company and a resort — Rosie Holidays and Ahura Resorts — are cooperating on a fund to help bring needed materials to those in outlying villages. Click here to donate.

READ MORE: Fiji Urging Visitors to Return

And beyond rebuilding, major players in the travel industry have voiced their support for the people, and their assurances that they will bring those highly valued tourists back to the island nation’s shores.

In a statement, Tahiti Legends Vice President Anna Vo said, “Fiji is a resilient nation and while they seek immediate financial help, what they also need is for tourists to continue to travel. The Fijians are heavily dependent on tourism; it is the leading economic activity for the islands. The best way we can help rebuild is to spend tourism dollars there and to help promote travel to Fiji.”

Likewise, in a statement on its website, Royal Caribbean said, “We’ll continue to support Fiji as they rebuild and recover, making every effort to maintain our scheduled port calls in the weeks and months ahead, if it is appropriate to do so.”

READ MORE: Top Five Reasons to Visit Fiji

It’s all part of a cohesive effort that shows the power of the travel industry to serve as a force of reconstruction and renewed hope in times of crisis.

“This is the strongest storm in Fiji’s recorded history and our hearts and prayers are with the people of Fiji as they rebuild,” said Mike Rea, CEO of Tourism Cares. “We are honored that the tourism industry is in a position to help, both through the power of our very business and through charitable contributions. Every travel company in a position to help boost tourism to Fiji can give back that way. And for those making donations, please consider supporting local organizations as well as multinational ones, and supporting recovery as well as relief.”

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