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31 Dec, 2004

Tsunami Update 10: Managing The Aftermath of the Crisis

Sri Lankan industry consultant Renton de Alwis, a former Vice President Asia for the Pacific Asia Travel Association, looks at what’s next in a strategy paper on “Managing the Aftermath of the Crisis.”

Sri Lankan industry consultant Renton de Alwis, a former Vice President Asia for the Pacific Asia Travel Association, has already started thinking ahead with this suggested strategy paper on “Managing the Aftermath of the Crisis.” At the same time, serious questions are being asked about who knew about the imminent disaster, when did they know it and why they didn’t do more to alert people. Plus the normal announcements, appeals and updates from Asia Dive Expo, One&Only Resorts in the Maldives, InterContinental Hotels Group, Amari Hotels and Resorts, World Bank, SAARC Chamber Tourism Council and Travel Agents Association of India (T.A.A.I.)



From Trevor Ward, TRI Hospitality Consulting: Thanks for these updates – I’m sure that in times to come we will look back at these reports as an invaluable resource on understanding what happened, with lessons to be learnt for future such events. Best regards



A suggested approach for Sri Lanka (and worthy of possible consideration by other destinations). — Prepared by Renton de Alwis 30 December 2004

Never before have we faced a disaster anywhere near this. Can any amount of effort by government alone meet the challenges we face? I fear not. Every Sri Lankan will need to chip in to help now. While the collection and distribution of food, clothing and medicines goes on with varying degrees of success, we will also need to focus our efforts now on the rebuilding livelihoods, homes and infrastructure issues.

What is suggested is a very basic approach. The principle of not getting too complicated and leaving things as simple as possible in a crisis is the core strength of this approach and it is a deliberately incorporated design element. The following action strategies are proposed to ensure that a sound rebuilding exercise is carried out that will minimise any mismanagement, inefficiency, corruption and pilferage of resources and efforts.

Strategy 1. (need a top policy level decision)

1.1. The government focuses entirely on rebuilding the infrastructure and doing it better than it was before.

1.2. Rebuilding affected peoples livelihoods and homes is left with professionals, non governmental organisations, the private sector and other able citizens

Note: It is understood that this will be a difficult decision for the government or a political party based system to make. The reason is that politicians will not get any credit (possible votes) and the effort of rebuilding lives of peoples and their homes will be done by people who do not want anything for it in return, except the feeling that they have helped. Some private sector entities may do it expecting tax breaks, or as corporate social responsibility initiatives or to gain better brand recognition. We need to understand appreciate these needs.

Strategy 2.

A team adopts a village

If above is accepted then move to act on the following on 1.2:

2.1. Government to facilitate a ‘hands off’ approach by politicians (national and local) in people’s lives and homes, rebuilding effort.

2.2. Engage the OPA and all other professional bodies (as volunteers) to carry out basic needs assessments for livelihoods and homes rebuilding at each village in each Grama Sevaka Niladhari division in the affected areas, within a period of two weeks from now, based on a common format to be designed and presented in an electronic format (to save time). (eg. Nets and boats for fishermen, building materials for houses, basic belongings such as bedding and needs such as infant food, food, cooking utensils etc). All of them may be given a single briefing prior to taking off to do the needs assessments.

2.3. Collect all the Needs Assessments at a central location, copy them into a computer, organise it according to zones or regions and make the information on each village available through media and all other means to all professionals, companies, NGOs and able individual citizens with a call for them to register to ADOPT a Village.

2.4. Discourage assistance to individuals and families and encourage team formation among professionals, NGOs, private sector, able individuals (e.g. groups of neighbourhood groups in the city, a temple/ church groups, an affinity clubs, youth groups, a school, sports clubs etc) to take on to Adopt a Village by each team

2.5. Register each team and empower them to work with the village of their choice with very little interference from government or the political machinery. Government agencies need to support the efforts with facilitation of services where needed.

2.6. Let an alliance of professional organisations, NGOs and private sector leaders handle the coordination of the effort working closely with NGO and coordinating on the infrastructure development aspects with government (power, roads, railway, communications etc.). They should have council of 10, several sub committees and one Chief Executive with authority and responsibility for implementation.

2.7. Let all donor support (except those for infrastructure development) be handled by the coordinating organisation consisting of professionals, NGOs and private sector leaders

Strategy 3: Exploring the opportunities in the crisis

While we have lost so many lives, livelihoods, homes and much of the infrastructure in the affected areas, we still have our will, determination, skills, land and other resources that we can command, intact. Like the Chinese have the same characters in Mandarin for crisis and opportunity and the Japanese rebuilt themselves after the world war, we can now begin to rebuild, making things better than before. The following guidelines are suggested:

3.1. Town planners, architects and engineers should begin immediately to redesign the areas affected. (e.g. Galle town and all other affected towns along the coast. Maybe the Galle Cricket stadium can now be relocated elsewhere and the old esplanade recreated. New designs for bus stands, and better and more durable construction of the roads, etc.)

3.2. Tourism facilities along the beach can be better designed using local styles and local materials to look and be located better than they were. Government agencies to facilitate the effective implementation of urban planning codes, environmental regulations and coast conservation regulations when the rebuilding effort is undertaken. Setting back beach hotels to avoid future damage is an example.

3.3. Immediately form guidelines for reconstruction and redevelopment in terms of physical design, human development such as food, health, education, handling infants and children related issues etc.

3.4. Involve all community leaders in the efforts including clergy of all faiths, elders etc.

3.5. Let this be a silent effort with no personalities highlighted or credit given to any. The media to play a responsible role in not glorifying the efforts but focusing on the needs and issues and ways to seek solutions for them.

Strategy 4.

For this to succeed, it will need to be given leadership at the highest level. That leadership should be to facilitate the process and not to control it. Lot of flexibility is needed for this process to succeed and it is a ‘learn and adjust as you do’ process as well.



Serious questions are being asked about who knew about the imminent disaster, when did they know it and why they didn’t do more to alert people. The following weblinks, sent to me by a reader in Singapore, are self-explanatory.



Again one of the worst hit by the crisis, the global travel industry has to decide whether to pursue this search for accountability or do what it did after the previous weapons-of-mass-destruction (the ones which were never found) episode, viz., NOTHING! This time, the weapons (or in this case, the waves) were for real.

Travel & tourism industry leaders have already failed the hundreds of thousands of people who have died and are continuing to die as a result of the non-existent weapons of mass destruction. To fail those who have died and are continuing to die as a result of the very real WMDs would be the ultimate travesty.



Organiser Indicates a Dive Industry Support Plan

Bangkok (31 December 2004) – Suntec Integrated Media, organiser of Asia Dive Expo (ADEX), has announced that the exhibition will still go ahead as planned in Bangkok from 31 March – 3 April 2005, in order to support the dive industry growth around the region.

Roel van Leeuwen, Director of Suntec Integrated Media (SIM), said, “Our thoughts are with all those affected by the tsunamis tragedy. We wish to express our deepest sympathies and condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in this major natural catastrophe. However, at the same time the best way we can serve the Thai and also the regional tourism industry, particularly the dive component to quickly get back on its feet, is to proceed as planned with Asia’s premier dive show and we do reassure all ADEX exhibitors and visitors that the show will go on”.

As an indication of sincere interest to overcome current recovery efforts, one of the dive industry support plans will be to donate all cash proceeds of ADEX 2005 visitor admission tickets towards a relief fund that will assist the dive market.

To-date, three months before the show, a total of 72 companies from 15 countries are committed to occupy 2,500 sqm of exhibition space. van Leeuwen added that ADEX is still continuing to receive inquiries on participation from potential exhibitors and trade visitors’ registration. “Thais especially are a very resilient people and, despite the horrors of recent days on the coasts of Southern Thailand, there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that they will rebound from this tragedy, putting their businesses and their lives back together and we believe the best way to help them is to go about business as usual, as far as possible,” said van Leeuwen. “Many of the exhibitors from Europe and other parts of Asia will surely wish to do their bit to rebuild the dive industry in view of current devastation in many of the dive-related resort areas around the Asian region,” he added.

There is no change to ADEX programs and activities schedule and all will go ahead as per their original dates and timings. ADEX activities include an underwater dive photography competition and a youth art talent forum on diving ecology. Jennifer Sy may still be contacted for details on all the ADEX events: Jeniffer Sy at +65 6825 2256 for more details (jeniffer.sy@suntecintegratedmedia.com).

ADEX remains fully supported by the Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Diving Equipment & Marketing Association (DEMA) in addition to all the major international dive industry associations, including BSAC, DAN, IANTD, IAHD, NAUI, PADI, SSI and SDI/TDI/ERDI. Established successfully as Asia’s leading international dive exhibition, ADEX will be entering its eleventh annual year and is expected to exceed 12,000 visitors throughout its four-day run, making it a major dive event the industry as well as dive enthusiasts await for.

Offering ADEX visitors all the amenities of a premier dive show, ADEX will be held in Bangkok Convention Centre complemented by the surrounding Central Plaza Shopping Complex, SFX Cinemas, Sofitel Central Plaza Hotel and meeting room facilities, the location is easily accessible by the BTS Skytrain and the newly opened Bangkok underground commuter system, as well as by car.

ADEX 2005, opening on 31 March to trade visitors only and 1 – 3 April to all visitors, will be operating from 11am – 7pm. For more information, please visit:www.asiadiveexpo.com, email: adex@suntecintegratedmedia.com or call: +65 6825 2289/ +65 6825 2258.



London, 30 December 2004 – One&Only Resorts, part of Kerzner International Limited, offers its heartfelt sympathies and concern to all those affected by the earthquake and tsunami. Recognising the tragic loss of life, injury and devastation, One&Only Resorts is donating US$100,000 to the Maldivian Disaster Relief Fund to help the local community with rebuilding efforts.

All guests and staff at One&Only Kanuhura, Maldives have been accounted for with no casualties. At the group’s other resort in the Maldives, One&Only Reethi Rah, which is currently under development, everyone has also been thankfully accounted for with no casualties.

Paul Jones, One&Only Resorts’ Chief Operating Officer, flew immediately to the Maldives following the tragedy to offer additional support to the local resort teams.

One&Only Kanuhura has remained operational for guests who elected to stay and is receiving guests from 1 January 2005. However, 20 Water Villas/Suites have been removed from service until further notice due to damage. Assessment of damage is underway at One&Only Reethi Rah, which has been due to open in March 2005. Any possible change to the opening date will be communicated.

Commenting on the tragedy, J.T. Kuhlman, One&Only Resorts’ President, said: ‘At this time of great shock and sadness, Mauro Governato, General Manager of One&Only Kanuhura, and all of us at One&Only Resorts offer our condolences to those affected in southern Asia and east Africa. I would like to thank and commend the people of the Maldives for pulling together during this challenging time and our staff for their outstanding efforts to ensure the safety and comfort of our guests.’



Singapore, 30 Dec 2004 – InterContinental Hotels Group is committing US$125,000 in funds to UNICEF to match the donations of its employees, hotel owners and partners, vendors, consumers and Priority Club Rewards members and has designated UNICEF as the international relief agency to be the recipient of these funds.

This initiative supports the Group’s ongoing community efforts towards UNICEF, which has been the official global charity organization for the Group. The Group will also be raising funds within its global network of staff to assist hotel employees and their families who have been affected by the incident. The funds will go towards helping employees rebuild their homes and pay for medical expenses and other essentials.

Since the tsunami struck, the Group’s immediate priority has been focused on the safety and well being of guests and staff. It has taken several proactive measures to render assistance to guests, particularly at the two Holiday Inns in Phuket and Phi Phi Island. These include mobilizing additional resources, providing alternative accommodations and ensuring regular food supply to ensure that guests are well taken care of.

Below is an update on the status at the two Holiday Inns:

Holiday Inn Resort Phi Phi Island: Has not sustained any damage to its buildings. The hotel is fully operational and is continuing to welcome guests. Due to its location, the hotel with its 80 bungalows, its restaurants and recreational areas are intact and unscathed by the tsunamis. Facilities and services within the hotel are back to normal and it is business as usual. At the same time, the Group also wishes to confirm that all our guests and staff are accounted for and are safe.

Holiday Inn Resort Phuket: The hotel has unfortunately sustained considerable damage due to the tsunami and will therefore be closed immediately for repairs and maintenance. The Group will undertake a full assessment and will provide an update on the reopening date in due course. Staff and guests have been evacuated, out of which more than fifty guests have been transferred to the Group’s hotels in Bangkok where they have been provided with alternative accommodation at the InterContinental Bangkok and the Holiday Inn Silom, Bangkok. These guests are safe and already in contact with their family members. The hotel is continuing its efforts, working with authorities to locate those unaccounted for. Family members and friends can call the InterContinental Hotels Group’s 24 hour hotline number (61) 2 9935 8313 or toll free numbers in their home countries for more information. For those based in the United Kingdom, they can call this hotline (44) 13 8489 0090

The Group would like to advise that its hotels in India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia have not been affected by the tsunamis. The hotels are fully operational.



The Amari Coral Beach Resort in Phuket sustained damage. Areas affected include the rooms on lower floors, the Rim Talay Restaurant and the La Gritta Restaurant. After assessing the extent of the repairs required, we can advise that the resort will be closed until the 1st April.

Please note that none of our other properties received any damage, and our beach resorts in Pattaya, Samui, Koh Chang and Trang are operating normally with full facilities and activities.

For specific enquiries, please contact: Alex Constantine, Director of Communications Telephone: 0 2255 3767, 847 Petchburi Road Email: email@amari.com, Pratunam, Rajthevi. Bangkok, 10400, Thailand. Fax: 0 2255 3718



We had intended to send the customary holiday season greetings at this time, pointing to a year with many accomplishments, as well as to the many highs and lows experienced on governance worldwide.

Yet the tragic loss of life and devastation caused by the Tsunami in many countries make us pause and focus on their plight. The extent of the human toll of this disaster is only now beginning to be grasped. Our thoughts are with the many victims in so many countries and regions. The material and economic losses are also enormous, and the threat of further human losses in the near future due to disease are all too real.

The World Bank has formed a crisis team to respond to this disaster with assistance to the afflicted areas. You can access to the homepage of the World Bank’s website at http://web.worldbank.org/ where inter alia there is a message by the Bank’s President, Jim Wolfensohn.

Also, anybody considering contributing to provide relief to the Tsunami victims could visit one or more of the following websites (or otherwise search for other alternatives in your own country and in the internet): from CNN, a number of relevant agencies are listed at: http://www.cnn.com/2004/WORLD/asiapcf/12/28/tsunami.aidsites/index.html

United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) http://www.wfp.org/index.asp?section=4 As just stated by the World Bank’s senior management: ‘Money cannot replace the huge loss that so many people have suffered. Yet, the contribution that each one of us makes, no matter how large or small, will at least help people rebuild their lives.’



SAARC Chamber Tourism Council [SCTC] is profoundly shocked and saddened by the extent of devastation and loss of life suffered by some of our member countries in the SAARC Region, as well as in some of the neighbouring countries of South Asia. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the victims of this tragedy, their families and friends, and we are confident that the region will recover from this latest blow inflicted indiscriminately by the forces of nature. SCTC would like however to reassure the travelling public that large parts of the SAARC Region were mercifully spared from the effects of this catastrophe, being located far from the earthquake’s epicentre and not having any coastal areas fronting the Indian Ocean.



The Travel Agents Association of India – Northern Region has decided to also help our fellow citizens who have been affected in the Southern region around Chennai . We are organising a consignment of all essential items including clothes, food , medicines, blankets etc. which we are collecting voluntarily from our members, family and friends . This will be flown down to Chennai personally by our Chaiman Mr Rajji Rai, our Secretary Mr Sanjay Narula and the undersigned on January 1st , 2005 and handed over through our Southern Region Chapter to the organisations who are carrying on the humanitarian work.

Through your newsletter I would like to appeal to all citizens to come forward and be generous in this hour of need. I am sure they will be able to find their own channels of providing relief to those unfortunate souls who have had to go through this living hell. Even a small gesture of abstaining from New Year celebrations would count. Remember it is not how much you can do but what you can do that counts.


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