WITIA Members Step Forward with Flood Relief Initiatives in Australia

Queensland, Australia: Members of Women in Tourism International Alliance (WITIA), headquartered in Gold Coast, Queensland, are wasting no time in coming to the assistance of victims of unprecedented flooding in the state of Queensland. While the tourism-dependent regions of the Gold Coast, Whitsunday Islands and Cairns have escaped flooding and are all open for business, state capital Brisbane and central Queensland were hard hit. These areas are beginning the slow process of recovery.

Within hours of WITIA’s first emailed appeal, local area members came forward to volunteer for humanitarian and clean-up efforts that assist flood victims. According to Beryl Ley, WITIA Communications Director, no WITIA members were directly affected by the floods. “However our members were in the first wave to pitch in with the huge task of cleaning up. Even before flood waters began to recede, we had members raising money for victims through spontaneous street gatherings organized on the Gold Coast. On ‘Salvation Saturday,” our members joined an estimated 12,000 residents unaffected by flooding to travel to Brisbane by bus as part of a massive mop and bucket brigade. Other members have been sorting and packing needed supplies such as non-perishable food, toiletries, clothing, bedding and toys to be distributed to evacuation centers.”

Beyond immediate aid, WITIA members are setting up programs to provide needed funds for the long recovery period. One outstanding example is WITIA member Louise Kearney of Sydney-based Accommodation Auctions On Line. Kearney has solicited donations of vacation packages from properties in Australia, Bali, Fiji, the Cook Islands, Vanuatu and Thailand that will go on auction during February 2011. One hundred percent of the auction proceeds will be donated to the floods appeal. Kearney expects to raise between AUD $30,000 – $50,000 with this initiative.

Says Kearney, “We need everyone’s help to make this a real success. We urge you to donate or recommend donors of accommodations, tours, attractions, cruises, flights and transfers – whatever items can attract bids at auction. Furthermore, donors whose solicitations sell at auction will receive a donation receipt made out to them from the Queensland government. Accommodation Auctions is donating our systems and programs to make this happen efficiently and fairly.”

To offer assistance or to get more information, contact Kearney at sales@accommodationauctions.com. As her website is international, this opportunity is open to WITIA members and other tourism businesses around the globe.

WITIA President Mary Mahon Jones adds, “It is heart-warming to see WITIA members respond so quickly. Adelaide member Gudrun Tamandl of Cruise Connection started the ball rolling with an offer of free accommodations for a displaced family. WITIA itself has made a monetary donation. Our call continues to our global membership – be generous in using the power of tourism to help victims in calamitous circumstances, whether in Queensland or other stricken areas.”

Women in Tourism International Alliance (WITIA) is a global networking association for people in travel, tourism, hospitality and related industries. WITIA works to promote and enhance business opportunities and promotes the value of tourism to foster cultural understanding and peace worldwide. It supports charitable causes that offer care and protection to women and children, assists young people in the industry and contributes to the protection of the planet’s natural resources.

For more information, please contact Anne Isaacson, Secretary, at secretary@witia.org.

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