MIAMI (Oct. 20, 2016)—The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association is urging the region’s tourism industry stakeholders to assist with both immediate and sustained relief efforts to support the people of Haiti and parts of the Bahamas, which were hardest hit by Hurricane Mathew this month.

“Our neighbors in Haiti and the Bahamas have borne the brunt of this powerful storm and the recovery and restoration process will be long and difficult,” said Karolin Troubetzkoy, president of the regional trade association.

Working with the national hotel and tourism associations in Haiti and the Bahamas, CHTA is directing tourism industry stakeholders to local organizations that are coordinating on-the-ground relief, accepting and directing donations of cash, equipment and supplies.

According to Troubetzkoy, a two-step approach is important for the destinations to rebound as quickly as possible. “First, we must meet the immediate needs of people,” she said. “Beyond that, we need to support long-term efforts which are essential to sustained recovery.”

To achieve these goals, CHTA is developing a fundraising initiative through the online auction channel Charitybuzz.com with which CHTA previously collaborated on a relief and recovery project for Dominica. Regional hoteliers are invited to donate room nights for the auction to benefit residents in Haiti and the Bahamas who are struggling to put their lives back in order. Room nights can be contributed by contacting CHTA’s dedicated auction email at ch4haiti@gmail.com.

In Haiti, Hurricane Matthew is reported to have claimed almost 1,000 lives and devastated the agricultural and fishing sectors, the island’s flora, natural attractions, schools and homes, leaving thousands of families homeless and unable to meet basic human needs.

In the Bahamas, reports indicate that the most severe damage occurred on Grand Bahama Island, North and Central Andros and the Berry Islands.

National hotel and tourism associations have reported international airports are operational, as are major seaports, which will assist in the recovery operations and in welcoming visitors to those areas that were least affected.

The majority of the hotels in the Bahamas are operating, and others expect to be fully operational over the next several weeks. Similarly, in Haiti, 90 percent of the hotels are operating because the northern part of the country was not as severely affected as in the southwest part of the country.

Items of greatest immediate need include tarpaulin, building supplies, mattresses, bed linens, hygiene kits, water, diapers, evaporated milk, infant formula, wipes, baby clothes, soap, shampoo, shoes, solar powered lamps, non-perishable items, rice, flour, oatmeal, sugar, tuna, canned spaghetti, sardines, fruit cups, peanut butter, jam and corned beef.

To assist with immediate relief, visit http://bit.ly/2dx1ZaP.