Hotels donating part of their room revenue to relief funds; airlines re-assigning aircraft to flying relief workers to the disaster zone; hotel employees lining up to donate blood; these are just a few examples of how organizations and individuals in the hospitality and travel industry have responded to the earthquake in Sichuan.
China is so vast that the number of people affected by a natural disaster is enormous — but so is the response from across the travel and hospitality industry. As the relief efforts progressed the media has carried many instances of where the travel and hospitality industry has reacted to mitigate the disaster.
According to CITS Sichuan the earthquake has badly affected the tour itinerary Dujiangyan-Wolong National Natural Reserve-Jiuzhaigou; while the tour itinerary Emeishan-Leshan-Zigong was less affected. The China National Tourism Administration has issued an emergency notice, asking travel agencies to stop organizing tour groups to the earthquake-affected areas.
Feedback from some major hotel groups indicates that fortunately there were no fatalities among their guests and staff although some properties suffered minor damage. For the Jinjiang Hotel in Chengdu the first priority was to get all guests and personnel away from the hotel to an area of comparative safety. The next priority was to ensure that the evacuees were provided with food and water.
At the Shangri-la Hotel, Chengdu, guests and staff were evacuated in the moments following the quake. The hotel closed some of its facilities on the higher floors directly after the earthquake and provided complimentary dinners for guests on the ground level. So that guests could easily communicate with their families and friends, the hotel provided complimentary IDD calls and Internet access. As a precautionary measure, the Shangri-La hotel in Chengdu called in structural engineers to ensure the structural integrity of the hotel.
Being close to the affected areas of the earthquake, Kempinski Hotel Chengdu responded quickly by organizing a donation drive and promptly sent food, medical supplies and other material to the victims.
Marriott International reported that all its hotels were operating normally and all its associates and guests were accounted for. The group operates one hotel in the province –the JW Marriott Hotel Chongqing, which is located some 600 kilometers from the epicenter of the earthquake. It sustained superficial damage and is in normal operation.
The major hotel groups were swift to check that all guests and staff were safe and uninjured and to help employees from Sichuan check that the family and relatives at home were safe.
Companies and individuals from across the country are also donating money and services to help the stricken areas recover quickly. All the major brand hotels in China are raising money by organizing voluntary donations from staff and guests and, in many cases, donating a percentage of their daily room revenue. Some hotel groups with properties in or near the disaster area are not only donating money but also made hotel rooms available free of charge to people rendered homeless by the earthquake.
Airlines have made major contributions in both money and logistics. Air China allocated nine aircraft to carry relief troops into Sichuan from Zhengzhou. On the morning of May 15, 3,000 relief soldiers were sent to Chengdu and Air China flights collected stranded passengers from Jiuzhaigou. And Hainan Airlines provided free transportation for Handicap International's disaster relief materials including tents, crutches and wheelchairs.
Wang Jia Yun, president of CITS Sichuan, said, "At present, travel agencies are positively offering help and assistance to those tour groups and tourists that are stranded in the disaster area. Some tourist attractions have been closed including Dujiangyan, Qingchengshan, Jiuzhaigou, Wolong, and Sanxingdui. Travel agencies will be prepared for reconstruction work after the earthquake. Sichuan's tourism departments are making every effort to restore those attractions' operations. In the meantime they will try to attract Sichuan's local tourists to travel to other places."