Travel and meetings industries step up to support Ukrainians
Travel firms and meetings associations are acting on their foundation of bringing people together. Expressions of support for the Ukrainian people and condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are growing. Organizations are issuing statements, establishing fundraisers, banning Russian state enterprises from IMEX Frankfurt, halting travel to Russia, and canceling international events that had been scheduled to take place in Russia.
United and American airlines each have launched campaigns to support humanitarian efforts and provide relief to Ukrainian refugees. Both airlines are encouraging customers to donate money or airline miles.
United Airlines announced it will match up to $100,000 in cash donations, in addition to awarding bonus miles for each cash donation. United also said it will match the first five million miles in mileage donations.
Through March, American Airlines has pledged to direct funds collected in flight and online to support UNICEF’s humanitarian response in Ukraine. In addition, American says donated airline miles will help transport physicians and relief workers to assist with humanitarian efforts.
In parts of Europe, Ukrainian refugees are being offered free temporary housing through Airbnb, free transportation from car rental companies and train and bus operators, and free hotel rooms. In America, some convention centers say they will no longer sell Russian brands at their venues, according to published reports.
Statements condemning Russia, supporting the Ukrainian people, and calling for peace have been issued by leading industry groups, including the Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA), Meeting Professionals International (MPI), IMEX Group, Destinations International, Events Industry Council, European Cities Marketing, and the Society for Incentive Travel Excellence (whose chapter in Poland is actively supporting refugees from Ukraine). The official statements from PCMA, MPI, and Destinations International read, in part:
PCMA Statement on War in Ukraine and Eastern Europe
Now, more than ever, the world must come together.
The unprovoked and unjustified attacks on the people of Ukraine prove that we, as a society, have more work to do.
Social injustice — war — has no place, anywhere. …
We stand united against war and acts of evil against innocent civilians. …
MPI Statement on Russian-Ukraine Conflict
Meeting Professionals International condemns the acts of aggression from Russian forces and urges an expeditious end to the conflict with Ukraine. In a show of support for the people of Ukraine, MPI will immediately suspend business with all companies in Russia. In addition, any plans to formalize a chapter in Russia will be paused.
MPI is disheartened that an action like this is necessary, yet understands it is critical to ensure these violent acts are met with responsible action to help lead towards a peaceful resolution. …
Statement on Ukraine by Destinations International
Our hearts have been with the people of Ukraine since the Russian government began its unprovoked and unconscionable attack on that nation. Destinations International condemns the Russian government’s acts of aggression and urges an expeditious end to the war in Ukraine.
We believe that tourism is a bridge that connects people of diverse backgrounds and different cultures; we strive to build a community of destination professionals who believe in goodwill toward all people.
Due to the Russian government’s unprovoked acts of violence, Destinations International will not engage in further business in Russia until a peaceful resolution takes place. We have made the decision to terminate the membership of our one member in Russia, the Saint Petersburg Convention Bureau, effective immediately. …