If 2015 is remembered for anything, it will be as the year Europe faced the biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. No one can have failed to be moved by the footage of men, women and children arriving in the Mediterranean, clutching meagre possessions as they flee war and persecution.
The generosity of our industry though never fails to surprise. Earlier this year, TTG reported on travel agent Laura Shepherd from Radnor Travel in Powys, who collected teddies to send to Syrian children. Following the story’s appearance, Shepherd managed to collect 395 toys – including several from the TTG team – which were shipped out to the war-torn country in June.
Earlier this month, we reported on two agents – Shona Lyons of Crusader Travel and Hays Travel homeworker Anna Howard – who had each started collections for refugees, while Noel Josephides, chair of Sunvil, revealed he had appealed to the Home Office to use empty inbound flights to carry stranded migrants to Britain.
He was doubtful of the government’s approval, but this week, we can reveal that Crusader Travel and Sunvil have decided to instead team up and use the empty planes to transport supplies out to refugees in Samos.
While governments dither about how to react to the ongoing crisis unfurling on our doorstep, it is heartwarming to see that the travel industry at least is not content to simply sit back and do nothing.
It is not just refugees that our sector has been volunteering to raise funds for. Members of Tomorrow’s Travel Leaders have raised more than £8,000 for Reuben’s Retreat, and this month they headed up to the centre to spend the day helping out.
TTG Media is also excited to reveal a new fundraiser in partnership with the Family Holiday Association – albeit a more unorthodox one. Think a well-known cruise boss, your favourite travel trade editor and a whole lot of gunge...
This is the year that Europe once again saw the tragic effects of war. I hope it will also be recognised as the year that saw others going all out to help those in need.
News editor, TTG