CrossSphere Monitoring Disaster in Asia
December 28, 2004
CrossSphere Monitoring Disaster in Asia
A massive earthquake of magnitude 9.0 occurred off the Indonesian island of Sumatra on Dec. 26 causing damage to many countries in the area, including – India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Somalia. The earthquake, and subsequent tremors, triggered tsunamis that devastated a large section of Asia’s coastline and have left tens of thousands dead or missing.
"Our heart-felt sympathy goes out to anyone who has family members or friends affected by this horrible situation," said CrossSphere Chairman Ann Thomas, CTP.
If anyone has questions relating to the current tourism situation in those countries or has travel planned to the affected areas, please contact CrossSphere headquarters at 800.226.4444 (U.S. and Canada) or 859.226.4444. Those interested also can post comments or questions concerning the situation on the member forums at http://crosssphere.crosssphere.com/Login.aspx.
CrossSphere staff members have spoken with member companies who provide packaged travel to the areas hit hardest by the disaster, and members report there are no known extenuating difficulties resulting from the tragedy.
"We had groups in those areas earlier this year but, fortunately, we don’t at this time," said Kailash Dhaksinamurthi, CEO/Owner of Search Beyond Adventures in Minneapolis, Minn. "However, I have staff members from countries that were affected, so it hits us very closely. I’ve been to those beaches, the hotels, and the shops and have taken vacations there. We also have many contacts in those areas that we’re concerned about. This tragedy won’t have a dollar effect on our business, but it’s the human and personal side our company is dealing with now as we continue to watch and monitor the aftermath of this disaster."
"We went into crisis mode first thing Sunday morning and began contacting every client we have in those countries – groups, private tours, FITs," said Ashish Sanghrajka of Big Five Tours & Expeditions in Stuart, Fla. "So far, everyone is OK, the people we work with are OK and our clients are all safe. We have groups in Sri Lanka that were not affected, we had some affected in Phuket in Thailand, but we were able to get them rerouted and they are fine. The majority of our clients are currently in Thailand and South India, but they aren’t in the low-laying areas where the majority of the damage was inflicted."
Sanghrajka continued, "Our entire team was on the phone contacting our clients personally, and then we followed up with their family members. We also made contact with every supplier to get their damage assessment and make sure they were safe as well. We are doing everything we possibly can for our clients, knowing the issues are safety and making sure they are getting the complete story from their tour operator, not from scenes on the news where they are not affected or visiting. The people of Asia have really set apart their differences and have come together to help each other in this tragedy."
Information about U.S. citizens in affected areas may be obtained from the U.S. Department of State, Office of Overseas Citizens Services, at 888-407-4747 or from overseas, at 317-472-2328. Information about non-U.S. citizens in affected areas should be directed to the appropriate consulate or embassy. The following links take you to the Web site of the specific country’s embassy in Washington, D.C.:
Sri Lanka: http://www.slembassyusa.org/
Maldives and Somalia also suffered extensive damage, but neither one maintains an embassy in the United States. Here are links for more information on the situation in those countries:
Maldives (from Maldives Ministry of Tourism) www.visitmaldives.com.mv/mu/
Somalia (from the country’s government home page) www.somalilandgov.com/ngos.htm
To learn more about this situation and keep track of what’s happening, here are links to other resources:
United Nations: www.un.org/News/
The Red Cross: http://www.redcross.org/
Relief Web: www.reliefweb.int/w/rwb.nsf
Country Watch: www.countrywatch.com/cw_default.asp
World Health Organization: http://www.who.int/
World Tourism Organization: www.world-tourism.org/