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As always, when disaster strikes nearly anywhere in the world, tour operators are among those on the front lines helping people who are affected.
In the aftermath of the earthquake that hit Nepal over the weekend, tour operators had to spring into action. Their first consideration was whether they had clients traveling who could be affected by the incident in Nepal or the surrounding area. The effects spread far beyond the earthquake epicenter as the international air travel system receives its own shockwaves.
"Fortunately, we had no one on the ground in Katmandu," said Robert Drumm, president of Alexander + Roberts. "Now we are re-accommodating our guests in Lhasa, Delhi and Paro who were en route to Katmandu."
"We do have travelers in India at this time who are all safe and continuing their journey," said Amelia Sugerman, public relations manager of Collette. "Some of those travelers were scheduled to head to Nepal for an extension which we have promptly canceled. Collette is handling the arrangements to ensure that guests are safe and that flights are being rebooked for anyone who had planned on that extension."
"Once we confirmed that all Abercrombie & Kent guests and staff in Nepal were safe, we began reaching out to travel agents and family members listed as emergency contacts," said Pamela Lassers, director of media relations for Abercrombie & Kent USA. "With support from our offices in India and China, our team worked tirelessly through the weekend to determine the best course of action to insure the safety and security of our guests."
G Adventures launched a call for donations to aid those affected in Nepal. The Toronto-based tour operator is asking for help to raise $75,000 to help rebuild Katmandu, Nepal and the surrounding area.
Intrepid Travel had 23 group tours operating in Nepal at the time of the earthquake, 168 people total, including 11 Americans. Fortunately they were all unhurt.
After making sure that all of its guests in Nepal were safe and accounted for, Intrepid Travel sent out an appeal to raise money through The Intrepid Foundation. Originally it set a target of $40,000 Australian ($31,422 US) and pledged to match donations.
Intrepid received a robust response to its call for aid, so the operator increased its target to $200,000 Australian (($157,100 US) with a commitment to match contributions up to $100,000 Australian.
Intrepid is raising the funds for Plan International, a charity that has been helping children in Nepal for 30 years.
"The situation in Nepal is heartbreaking," said James Thornton, managing director of Intrepid Travel. "This is a part of the world that is close to the hearts of many of us, and we knew that like us - travelers will want to help. We want to raise a lot of money for local families in Kathmandu, and so by matching donations dollar-for-dollar we are encouraging people to give generously."
David Cogswell is executive editor covering tours and packages, Africa and the Middle East.
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