The travel industry has rallied in support of Haiti after the island was ravaged by Hurricane Matthew, leaving more than 900 dead and around 60,000 in temporary shelters.
The storm, which was the strongest in a decade, struck the Caribbean nation last Thursday.
In response, Thomson Airways volunteered a trio of its 787 Dreamliner aircraft to help deliver aid to those in need, while trade stalwart Jean-Marc Flambert, director of tourism marketing company Your Tourism Partner, who is half-Haitian himself, has launched his own fundraising scheme to sell art on behalf of locals.
Partnering with the Department for International Development (Dfid), the Tui-owned airline worked alongside cargo agent Airbridge International Agencies (AIA) to pack emergency supplies, including enough temporary shelters, water purifying equipment and solar-powered lighting for 12,500 people, onboard flights bound for Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic from Gatwick, Birmingham and Manchester.
Since Hurricane Matthew tore through Haiti – one of the poorest countries in the world according to the World Bank– there have been increasing fears of a cholera outbreak, as flood water mixes with sewage following damage to the country’s infrastructure.
Thomson Airways director of ground operations Dawn Wilson said the airline was “proud to play our part” in helping to rebuild the country.
Dfid logistics manager Julian Neale added: “Thomson and AIA went out of their way to transport UK aid to people in desperate need after losing their homes and livelihoods.”
Meanwhile, Flambert revealed his plans to help Haitians get back on their feet with an initiative he termed “trade not aid”.
Flambert said he planned to visit Haiti by mid-October on a mission to buy local artwork, putting “money directly into their hands”, with an aim to then sell these purchases in the UK and pass funds back to Haitians.
He is currently seeking pledges from the travel trade to make the trip financially feasible.
“The scheme allows them to have dignity of labour and work their way out of their loss, and gives them cash to rebuild their lives,” Flambert said. “Why not buy a Christmas gift and help Haiti at the same time?”