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5 tourism-supported charities that need your help now more than ever

April 18, 2020
8 min read
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Though these are challenging times for the travel industry as a whole as the coronavirus sweeps across the globe, many tourism-supported charitable initiatives depend on the tourist trade to operate and are now facing a crisis of their own.

Most of these organizations were first launched by or in collaboration with likeminded hotels that wanted to give back to the local communities and surrounding environment through educational or sustainability efforts.

In some of these cases, hotels were even created with the direct goal of financially supporting the existing charity, like in the case of Sol y Luna in Peru. Today, with the doors of the hotels closed and no money coming in, disadvantaged communities and endangered wildlife populations all around the world are at risk.

These are the charitable tourism-based initiatives in need of your donations, now more than ever.

1. Sol y Luna Association, Valle Sagrado, Peru

Set in the surreal landscape of Peru’s Andes mountain range, Hotel Sol y Luna was first created to support the Sol y Luna Association, a school and foster care system for underprivileged local children. The organization was launched by French expats Petit and Franz Miribel, who first moved to the Andes with children of their own in 1988.

Related: 7 reasons Peru should be on your bucket list

Now that the hotel is closed, Sol y Luna Association’s principal source of income has abruptly disappeared and is in need of donations to save  Sol y Luna Home, which provides a safe and happy place to live for the children of the Sol y Luna School.

(Photo courtesy of Sol y Luna)

“The current situation has left the children suddenly and completely without any security”, said Petit. “These hugely deserving children have either been deserted or maltreated and have finally found a safe and loving home with us…time is not on our side, we need to reach our fundraising target to be able to give these children the security they deserve".

Sol y Luna is in need of funds to continue to give children somewhere safe and nurturing to live -- you can help save Sol y Luna Home by donating here.

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2. Pack For A Purpose, worldwide

Based on a simple but genius idea, Pack For A Purpose depends on travelers using any extra space in their suitcase when traveling abroad to donate much-needed supplies and sundries to nearby communities. Pack For A Purpose operates in more than 60 countries, including throughout Central America, the Caribbean and Africa.

As people are no longer traveling and delivering these vital necessities like school supplies and basic medical and hygiene products, monetary donations may be the only way to help these often remote and impoverished communities who have previously relied on the kindness of travelers.

Read more: What it’s like to be in lockdown in 12 countries around the world

(Photo courtesy of Pack For A Purpose)

“Compassion and generosity travel well”, said Rebecca Rothney, founder and chairperson at  Pack For A Purpose. “Many travelers have made close connections in the places they travelled to. In these difficult times choosing to support communities around the globe, in addition to the one you live in, is a way to ensure those communities will survive”.

Make your donation to help Pack For A Purpose continue to provide vital medical and school supplies here.

3. Wilderness Wildlife Trust, Africa

With safari camps spread out across seven African countries, Wilderness Safaris has a deeply rooted love and dedication to the remote natural world and Africa’s extraordinary wildlife. With conservation at its core, its independent non-profit entity, the Wilderness Wildlife Trust, works to address the needs of animal populations, including endangered species.

(Photo courtesy of Wilderness Safaris)
(Photo courtesy of Wilderness Safaris)

Just recently, urgently needed funds have been allocated to make sure that Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park is kept safe from poachers who are rampant in the area. Thanks to the funds that were granted in April 2020, Hwange’s Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit can keep operating in the largest national park in Zimbabwe for the next eight months.

You can donate to specific Wilderness Wildlife Trust projects, including Hwange’s Scorpion Anti-Poaching Unit here in order to aid their important work in animal conservation in Africa.

4. Lampi Foundation, Myeik Archipelago, Myanmar

The far-flung Wa Ale island retreat is an eco-tourism project in South Myanmar’s untouched Lampi Marine National Park -- an area that only recently opened for tourism. The barefoot-luxe resort is privately owned by Christopher and Farina Kingsley and was created with the specific intention to directly support the local communities and conservation projects via the Lampi Foundation, which was also founded by the Kingsleys.

Wa Ale Resort annually donates 20% of net profits and 2% of room revenue to the Lampi Foundation.

Read more: 4 ways coronavirus will change the future of travel

(Photo courtesy of the Lampi Foundation)

“Despite Wa Ale closing early and the horrible pandemic that envelopes all of us at this time, the Lampi Foundation continues to work on our conservation efforts and aid the local fishing communities”, said Christopher Kingsley.

“We continue to fund the salaries of teachers and medics in villages, as well as scholarships promised for poorer families who cannot pay for the continuing education of their children. We also continue with our turtle conservation efforts and illegal fishing prevention efforts in the park. It's during these times that we must be diligent to protect pristine nature that may fall prey to those with bad intentions”.

To help provide the wages of vital workers like doctors and teachers and to help local communities with tools like scholarships, you can donate here.

5. The Sumba Foundation, Sumba, Indonesia

Philanthropy is at the heart of Nihi Sumba, a castaway-chic resort on the island of Sumba in the Indian Ocean. A portion of the hotel’s profits is routed into The  Sumba  Foundation, which aims to fight poverty and disease on the island. Since its creation in 2001, the foundation has reduced malaria infections by more than 93%, by educating 360 students in WHO Malaria Training and helped build 60 water wells and a network of 250 water stations, which provides clean water to 25,000 people each day. Guests are even encouraged to visit or volunteer with the foundation during their stay.

Related: Hotel Review: The Marangga Villa at Nihi Sumba Island, Indonesia

(Photo courtesy of Nihi Sumba)
(Photo courtesy of Nihi Sumba)

During the pandemic, the community remains at the forefront for Nihi Sumba. “The Sumbanese communities are at the top of our priorities amid COVID-19 circumstances”, said James McBride, partner and CEO of Nihi Sumba.

“The current situation is putting our Nihi team, many of whom live in the radius where the foundation operates and are the sole breadwinners, under very strenuous conditions. Each and every donation to the foundation will be contributing towards helping them through these very difficult times”.

Contributions will help in sourcing additional protective gear and testing kits for the local health workers, ensuring water systems are maintained and repaired, as hand-washing is imperative and distributing food for the infant nutrition program -- you can make your donation here.

Bottom line

Travelers and the larger travel industry have proven that they can not only be responsible but be a force for good all around the world. Now that the industry is hurting and travelers are stuck in one place, consider making a donation that ensures that these worthwhile initiatives -- whether alleviating local poverty or protecting vanishing wildlife -- remain cared for until we can travel again.

Featured image by tania araujo