The coronavirus pandemic has affected every industry in the world, and the hospitality and travel sector is no different – from travel bans, restrictions, and quarantines have resulted in all nonessential travel being cancelled and in some parts of the world, even airports being shut down.
However, there is a silver lining to all of this which has resulted in some positive environmental outcomes and philanthropic initiatives that has united the world unlike ever before.
The shutdown of many industries has actually produced some positive results for our planet. There are reports that pollution monitoring satellites from NASA and the European Space Agency, which found dramatic decreases in air pollution over China in February when the country was in quarantine.
The same has happened in Italy during its quarantine. According to Global News, The decline in tourism has brought “back the lagoon waters of ancient times, those of the post-war period, when it was even still possible to bathe in the waters of the canals,” according to local newspaper La Nuova di Venezia e Mestre.
And according to @cnn, the “earth’s upper crust is shaking less during the coronavirus outbreak”. Meaning that seismologists are observing less noise from cars, trains, and people which has resulted in some places like Brussels, to have a 30% to 50% reduction, “allowing for the detection of smaller earthquakes and other seismic events that would have not registered before.”
Another positive development is how individuals and companies are pitching in to help during the crisis.
There are many examples of individual philanthropic efforts and generosity from many sectors of the economy.
–Little Emperors, a private members luxury hotel club which offers its members luxury membership and benefits at hotels across the world will now be donating monthly donations of 50% of all new member sign-ups and 10% of all renewal fees in March, April and May will be donated to this cause. Their mission is to support the welfare and wellbeing at Britain’s National Health Service staff as they fight COVID-19.
Video Credit: Little Emperors
This is an organization of healthcare workers called Help Them Help Us has started a campaign to help Britain’s National Health Service weather the storm. Their goal is to help financially, to provide counselling and psychological services. They are also trying to provide public and professional educational resources about the COVID-19 pandemic and to build a Web-based platform to help professionals share tips and advice.
–The American Hotel and Lodging Association has made a national database available to the health community to help them find housing and support during this difficult time.
-Hospital rooms and beds are in limited supply in many areas, and the system is being stretched to its limit, so hotels have an important role to play in this crisis. In New York City, which has been particularly hard hit, the US Army Corps of Engineers is in the process of converting hospital rooms and college dormitories into 10,000 viable hospital beds.
–Virgin Atlantic has teamed up with Richard Brandson’s foundation Virgin Unite and the Virgin Group to fly in essential medical supplies and PPE equipment fro the NHS from China.
–The Plaza Hotel, St. Regis New York and Yotel HQ will provide their facilities for non-critical care patients or medical personnel. Room Mate Grace NY and Wythe Hotel will offer free rooms to medical workers.
-Hotel brands like OYO Hotels and Homes, Oxford Hotels & Resorts, and the Four Seasons Manhattan (on 57th Street), among others, have offered their rooms and services and more than 7,500 other hotels have said they would participate.
It is the same story all over the world.
-The Hilton Corporation has announced that it is assisting local governments to provide housing for first responders and healthcare workers. Hilton properties have been donating excess food to local food pantries as well. In addition, the corporation’s Hilton Effect Foundation, the company’s charitable arm, is making grants to support organizations fighting the COVID-19 infection, and also doling out money to communities in need. Finally, Hilton has given its rewards members the option to convert their points to cash and donate it to a list of organizations that are working to aid in the COVID-19 crisis.
-In Cognac, France, Hotel Chais Monnet & Spa located has re-opened its hotel kitchen to cook 365 meals for Cognac’s doctors, nurses and caregivers during the COVID-19 outbreak.
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-In Madrid, hoteliers have made 9,000 beds in 40 hotels available for patients. Europe’s largest hospitality company Accor opened 40 of its hotels in France for nursing staff and others on the front lines of the pandemic to make use of.
Companies like Crocs and Allbirds have donated shoes to healthcare workers, Sweetgreen is offering free lunches and Starbucks has started giving free drinks to healthcare workers, to name just a few.
And even tech companies like Logitech (offering free headsets and Webcams to teachers), Audible (offering free audiobooks for students), and Babbel (offering three months of free language learning to students) have launched programs to aid teachers and students. Many companies have donated supplies to hospitals, and others, like Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler are retooling to manufacture ventilators, face masks, and other much-needed equipment.
COVID-19 has been a cataclysmic event on a global scale, and there is no denying that it has caused much heartbreak and tragedy. Many economies and industries are taking body blows from which they will take a long time to recover. However, what is truly heartwarming, is the compassion and empathy that companies and people from all around the world are showing amidst this devastating pandemic.
It is the spirit of humanity in its best sense and is a shining example of what not only corporations can do, but what can happen when we work together and give back when faced with a crisis of this magnitude.