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28 Dec, 2004

Tsunami Update 3: Help Begins To Pour In

On the third day after the tsunami struck, global relief efforts have begun in earnest and help is pouring in.

This is Update No. 3 on the situation in Asia following last Sunday’s devastating tsunamis. It contains info from Thailand, Brunei and Banyan Tree, plus helping-hand efforts by the Balinese, Council of American Islamic Relations, Qatar Airways and the World Travel & Tourism Council. A Belgian tour operator has also designed a simple questionnaire which could be filled out to provide on-the-spot damage assessment.



Six Thai provinces have been affected by the ‘tsunami’ wave on December 26, 2004 — Phuket, Krabi, Phang-nga, Trang, Satun and Ranong. All other parts of Thailand are functioning as usual.

On December 27, Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Suwat Liptapallop chaired a meeting of government officials and private sector representatives to assess the situation and mobilise the resources needed to help the international and domestic visitors affected by the catastrophe.

The first step discussed was to arrange for the smooth transfer of as many visitors within the area as possible back to Bangkok by airlines which are providing a free service – THAI Airways International, Bangkok Airways, Air Asia, Orient Air, Phuket Air and Nok Air. The government will provide those affected with free accommodation, food and medical care at six selected public and private hospitals.

Information centres are to be set up to help visitors establish contact with their friends and relatives. The Centres will be set up in Phuket, Krabi and Don Muang Airports. Representatives of TAT, the Tourist Police and Thai Hotels Association (THA) will work together to provide the necessary information.

The Royal Thai Embassy in different countries around the world will also serve as an information centre for the local media. Among the private sector, THA is coordinating with its members to provide accommodation for tourists in Bangkok and surrounding areas.

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said that all international visitors who have lost their passports would be issued a Certificate of Identification as a temporary substitute to facilitate their departure from Thailand.

Representatives of embassies of 30 countries are heading for Phuket to provide aid and the necessary identification papers to citizens of their countries. Phuket Airport is operating normally. Germany, Canada, Italy and the Netherlands have already sent aircraft to pick up their respective citizens.

The Tourist Police of Phuket and Krabi are being assisted by the regular police force to set up a tourist police call centre that can be reached at 1155.

TAT Governor Mrs Juthamas Siriwan expressed her deepest condolences to the families, relatives and friends of all those affected by the tragedy and said that TAT is doing everything in its power to be of assistance to the victims.

The coast bordering the Gulf of Thailand has not been impacted. Popular destinations like Koh Samui, Pattaya, Rayong, Hua Hin and Cha-am are safe and still open to visitors. Similarly, north and northeastern Thailand is also safe and ready to receive the usual festive season traffic.

Useful contact details:

TAT websites: www.tourismthailand.org or www.tatnews.org

TAT call centre number: 1672 (local call).

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs hotline is: +66 2644 7249, +66 2643 5000 Ext. 5056, 5055, 5501

Local Thai radio station FM 107 MHZ will be airing English-language updates at regular intervals of the situation with data gathered from the different Information Centres. More information can be obtained from the different local news websites.



Brunei Tourism is profoundly shocked and saddened by the extent of devastation and loss of life suffered by some of our fellow member countries in ASEAN, as well as in countries in South Asia and East Africa, as a consequence of the massive earthquake and subsequent tidal waves that struck these regions on Sunday the 26th of December.

Brunei Tourism would like however to reassure the traveling public that Brunei, and indeed the whole Island of Borneo, was mercifully spared from the effects of this catastrophe, being located far from the earthquake’s epicenter and not having any coastal areas fronting the Indian Ocean. Therefore it is business as usual in Brunei and its tourist areas.

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.



Banyan Tree properties in Maldives and Phuket remain open. There have been no casualties at these resorts.

Impact on Banyan Tree Maldives Vabbinfaru and Angsana Maldives Ihuru has been minimal. The properties are both still open and fully operational. The only damage at the Banyan Tree was to the jetty, which has now been repaired. The few villas that were flooded at Angsana Maldives Ihuru are now completely cleared and fully operational.

Banyan Tree Phuket has been left virtually unscathed. Sands Restaurant, which is the resort’s beach bar and snack restaurant was damaged.

SRI LANKA: There have been no casualties at our resorts in Sri Lanka. Colour of Angsana’s Deer Park Hotel, which is situated in the Polonnaruwa district in the Northeastern part of the island has not been affected. It is approximately 4-5 hours inland with no beaches nearby. The roads to Deer Park Hotel are also clear.

However, the opening of Angsana’s Swanee Hotel located in Sri Lanka’s Beruwela beach area and currently at the final stages of construction, is likely to be delayed to the later half of 2005. There has been damage to the ground floor, including lobby area and guest rooms.



Antoine Noens, Product Director, Best Tours Belgium has designed a simple questionnaire to identify the damage and asked hotels in tourist destinations in affected areas to fill it out. The questionnaire is in the form of an Excel document and available by emailing btpek@163bj.com. Says Mr. Noens: Tour operators like us will find it of great help to provide updated information to people holding bookings and/or interested in visiting the region in a near feature. Maybe Pata could intervene with their local chapters and have their websites publish it. Tks for your help. www.best-tours.com.



There’s a whole area on the south west coast of Aceh, Indonesia, closest to the epicenter of the earthquake, where there’s been no contact at all. Officials are increasingly concerned about the situation there. It’s thought there were a million people living in that area. Relief supplies are beginning to arrive in the Sumatran city of Medan ready for transport into the affected area, and the Indonesian government has just decided that they will allow international aid agencies to operate in Aceh. The province has been virtually sealed off for the past eighteen months because of a conflict between Indonesian security forces and separatist rebels.

FOR THOSE ON BALI WISHING TO HELP – There are now at least several drop off points established on Bali, these include (as well as probably others):

<> Ubud : IDEP foundation office – Jl Hanoman No 44b, Ubud

<> Denpasar : JIKA- POSKO Bantuan Bencana Aceh – Jalan Tjok Tresna #49, Renon, and / or UNUD & Warmadewa Universities

<> Kuta : Surfer Girl HQ & Aroma Cafe

<> Seminyak : Asana Kopi.

FOR PEOPLE INTERNATIONALLY WISHING TO HELP – Bank transfers can be made to a dedicated bank account which we have opened today, details are :

Account Name : Yayasan IDEP

ACCOUNT NO : 034.001229576.003

Bank : BNI (Bank Negara Indonesia), Cabang Ubud, Bali

Bank Address : Jl. Raya Ubud, Bali – Indonesia


We are working in conjunction with Masyarakat Penanggulangan Bencana (MPBI) The Indonesian people’s association of disaster management and BAKORNAS (Indonesian disaster management agency) who can send help people in need in Aceh and Sumatra via Jakarta. Donations are being collected here in Bali on a volunteer basis. We will work hard to ensure that donations reach their intended target. Please help.

Initial items that you can consider donating (in kind or money to purchase) include:

<> Water purification tablets, and any other water purification tools

<> Oral Rehydration salts (Oralit)

<> Bleach, disinfectants, Carbol (disinfectant)

<> Soap, toothbrushes and toothpaste, talcum / calamine powder sanitary napkins

<> First Aid medications, and over-the counter medicines for fever and diarrhea

<> Non perishable food, vitamins (especially for infants & children), rice, instant noodles

<> Buckets, and plastic water containers, garbage bags

<> Sheets, towels, hammocks, mosquito nets and any other linens / bedding

<> Any (if possible quick drying) clothing

<> Cooking and eating utensils

<> Mosquito repellant

<> Tents & tarpaulins

<> Writing utensils

Thank you for any help / support you are able to give.



(Washington, D.C., 12/27/04) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today asked members of the American Muslim community and all people of conscience worldwide to offer humanitarian assistance and pray for the victims in Sunday’s tsunamis.

The Washington-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group also expressed condolences to the families of the victims. “We are deeply saddened by the news of the tragedy in southern Asia,” said CAIR Chairman Omar Ahmad. “We extend our sincerest condolences to the families of those killed and pray for the speedy recovery of those injured as a result of the earthquake. CAIR is working on identifying relief organizations that will provide aid to the affected areas.”


The following organizations have announced that they will take part in relief efforts to assist the victims of the earthquake:

ISLAMIC RELIEF WORLDWIDE RESPONSE launched an effort to get medical supplies, tents and sanitations facilities for the victims of the earthquake. To donate, send checks to Islamic Relief, 1919 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91506, call (888) 479-4968, or visit: www.irw.org

ASIA RELIEF, a Maryland based nonprofit organization, is accepting donations of nonperishable food items, clothing and toys for victims of the tsunami in Sri Lanka. Cash donations are also being accepted. To contribute, drop off donations anytime at 19409 Olive Tree Way, Gaithersburg, MD, 20879. Contact Seyed Rizwan Mowlana at 301-672-9355 for more information.

ISLAMIC CIRCLE OF NORTH AMERICA (ICNA) Relief has established an Indonesia, India & Seri Lanka Relief Fund to provide food, medicine, clothes, tents & other urgently needed supplies. To donate, visit www.ReliefOnLine.org or send checks to 166-26 89th Ave Jamaica, NY 11432, Tel.718-68-7028.

The INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS AND RED CRESCENT societies in south Asia have begun to mobilize staff and volunteers to affected areas to assist with the immediate needs. Emergency assessment and first-aid teams have already reached some of the affected areas. Call 1-800-435-7669. Contributions to the International Response Fund may be sent to your local American Red Cross chapter or to the American Red Cross International Response Fund, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, DC 20013. Internet users can make a secure online contribution by visiting www.redcross.org.

CARE Australia teams from Sri Lanka, Indonesia, India and Thailand are traveling to affected areas to gauge the impact of the disaster. Donations can be made through the CARE Australia website (www.careaustralia.org.au) or by phoning 1-800-020-046.

Other relief organizations that have established similar funds should notify CAIR by sending an e-mail to: cair@cair-net.org. Additional names will be added to a list on CAIR’s website, www.cair.com.

CAIR, America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 29 regional offices and chapters nationwide and in Canada. CONTACT: Rabiah Ahmed, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-Mail: rahmed@cair-net.org; Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-Mail: ihooper@cair-net.org.



Doha, QATAR – In the spirit of cooperation by Qatar’s tourism industry, Qatar Airways, The Ritz-Carlton Doha and the Four Seasons Doha have joined forces for a humanitarian relief effort to help stranded passengers affected by the devastating tidal waves that have swept across south-east Asia.

A special Qatar Airways charter aircraft flew to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean this morning to pick up stranded guests of the Four Seasons Hotel Maldives before returning to Doha, capital of the State of Qatar, this evening.

The Airbus A330-200 aircraft carrying 130 passengers touched down at Doha International Airport shortly after 8pm.

All passengers have been accommodated at The Ritz-Carlton Doha, where 130 deluxe rooms have been set aside for them, with the main Al Wosail ballroom turned into a relief centre offering provisions of food and drink and assisting guests with a smooth and fast check-in.

The Ritz-Carlton Doha has offered accommodation for two nights and has dedicated a hospitality area with a specially-set up Internet café for holidaymakers to contact their families by email.

Qatar Airways has also set up a temporary reservation office of six staff in the Ritz ballroom to handle onward bookings for the guests, made up of men, women and children representing 20 nationalities from around the world.

One of the function rooms has been set aside for The Ritz Kids programme with toys, food and drink and specially-trained staff on hand to look after them.

Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker praised the joint efforts of Qatar’s tourism industry in such desperate times of need. “What happened in south-east Asia has touched us all. It is a tragedy none of us could ever imagine happen,” he said.

“We at Qatar Airways are extremely pleased to have been able to help in this relief effort and all credit goes to our industry partners to work together at this extremely difficult time.”

Simon Casson, General Manager of the soon-to-be-opened new Four Seasons Doha, said the company’s sister property in the Maldives sent out a distress call for help by satellite telephone after all power was cut by the tidal waves.

“Our sister hotel in Singapore has been set up as a command centre and it was felt that Doha was strategically the best place to evacuate our guests to. We contacted Qatar Airways and they were happy to offer their assistance,” he said.

“We are extremely thankful that there was no loss of life at the Four Seasons in the Maldives and have received the most tremendous help from our industry partners at Qatar Airways and the Ritz-Carlton to look after our guests.”

Added Pierre Perusset, General Manager of The Ritz-Carlton Doha: “We know how terrifying a situation the guests have been through and The Ritz-Carlton Doha will extend the genuine care and personal service to provide guests with the best levels of comfort.

“These guests have had their Christmas and New Year holidays badly affected by the terrible events of Sunday and we can only do our best to make them feel at home here in Qatar.”



LONDON, December 27, 2004 – The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) expresses its condolences to everyone who has been affected by the Tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean, including the local communities and tourists.

Soon after the disaster struck, WTTC President, Jean-Claude Baumgarten, contacted the governments of all the countries affected in the region, seeking up to date information and offering WTTC’s assistance.

It is difficult to evaluate the full extent of the Tsunami disaster at this stage. The number of lives lost, families affected, and the significant impact on core infrastructure and the economies of these countries may not be available any time soon.

Jean-Claude Baumgarten commented, ‘All efforts must now be focused on working with the authorities on the ground, to help retrieve missing people as quickly and effectively as possible. We will do all we can to support local efforts’. He continued, ‘WTTC will be pulling together its Crisis Communications Committee, to facilitate the speedy transfer of information between Travel & Tourism organizations, governments, media and other experts, on the ground in the region affected and around the world’.

According to WTTC research, Travel & Tourism accounts for some 19 million jobs in South East Asia, representing 8.1% of total employment in the region. Research also shows that in 2004, Travel & Tourism accounted for 7.4 % of the region’s total GDP, equivalent to some US$103.8 billion.

In India, Travel & Tourism activity accounted for 4.9% of total GDP and 5.6% of total employment in 2004.

In Indonesia, WTTC research shows that in 2004, Travel & Tourism generated 10.3% of GDP and 8.5% of total employment.

Travel & Tourism activity in Malaysia accounted for 14.7 % of GDP and 12.7% of total employment.

In the Maldives, 74.1% of total GDP and 64.4% of total employment in 2004 was accounted for by the Travel & Tourism Economy.

In Thailand, Travel & Tourism activity in 2004 generated 12.2% of GDP and 8.9% of total employment.

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