Spaniards urged to stay loyal to tsunami zone
3 January 2005, MADRID-Travel agents are urging Spanish tourists not to cancel existing bookings to Indian Ocean countries affected by the tsunami disaster.
3 January 2005
MADRID-Travel agents are urging Spanish tourists not to cancel existing bookings to Indian Ocean countries affected by the tsunami disaster.
The president of the Spanish Union of Travel Agents (UNAV), Jose Luis Prieto, said 35 percent of reservations had been cancelled after the Boxing Day disaster.
But Prieto said holiday companies were advising tourists to help the affected countries by choosing another destination in the same country or delay their holidays, instead of cancelling.
"We are advising tourists which have not cancelled – between 60-65 percent – to change their destinations or delay their holidays," he said.
Meanwhile, the confirmed death toll from the Indian Ocean earthquake is still rising more than a week after the disaster.
The worst-hit country, Indonesia, now says more than 94,000 people died there alone, as total deaths near 140,000.
A massive relief operation is gathering pace and the UN says it is hopeful the world will be able to meet the challenge of getting aid to survivors.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell is on his way to the region to assess the damage wrought at first hand.
Spain has given a EUR 2 million non-repayable loan and low-interest credits of EUR 48 million to help victims in south-east Asia.
The government of Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said the money would be used for reconstruction projects with the condition that some contracts went to Spanish companies.
The Spanish government has so far sent three planes carrying aid for survivors.
Mobile hospitals and 60 rescue experts set off from an airbase north of Madrid bound for Sumatra at the weekend, Spain's International Cooperation Agency (AECI) said.
With countries across the globe racing to counter the spread of disease following the quake that has killed more than 125,000 people, the AECI chartered an airforce Hercules C-130 and a Boeing 707 bound for Medan city on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
The Spanish branch of the International Red Cross has also sending an Ilyushin to Medan carrying specialist water purification equipment and other medical equipment.
AECI general secretary Juan Pablo de Laiglesia said the mobilisation of Spanish aid was "a demonstration of solidarity by Spanish society designed to alleviate as far as possible the catastrophe which occurred in Indonesia."
The Red Cross plane flew in some 250,000 litres of clean water destined for hospitals and health centres with double that amount in drinking water, in desperately short supply.
At least 12 Spaniards are still missing, presumed dead.
One British family of seven, who live in Malaga, in Andalusia were rescued.
Meanwhile, Spanish companies were trying to raise cash for the aid effort.
Spanish hotel chain Sol Melia and retail distributor Eroski announced they were launching fund-raising campaigns to help the victims.
Sol Melia will donate one euro per reservation on its website, which takes reservations for some 350 hotels in 30 countries to a Red Cross disaster fund.
Eroski began selling calendars at one euro each with the cash going towards an effort to raise EUR 60,000 to contribute to supplies of water and other urgently-needed items.
The Spanish textile giant Inditex, owner of the Zara clothing brand, will donate 1 million euros to victims of Asia's tsunami disaster.
More than 1.8 million people in the disaster region need food aid, and an estimated five million people have been made homeless.
The UN believes the true number killed by the sea surges may never be known as many bodies have been washed out to sea.
Sri Lanka and India say they are almost ready to give up on more than 11,000 people still unaccounted for.
In the worst hit area - Indonesia's northern Aceh province - planes carrying supplies are arriving regularly at the main airport and US, Indonesian, Australian and Malaysian military aircraft are ferrying aid to areas of need.
But there have been frantic scenes as mobs of desperate survivors scramble to retrieve air-dropped supplies.
The aid fund reached USD 2 billion as Canada doubled its contribution to USD 67 million and Taiwan increased its pledge to USD 50 million.
The UN's emergency relief co-ordinator has said he is increasingly optimistic that "the global community will be able to face up to this enormous challenge".
Jan Egeland said logistical bottlenecks hampering speedy delivery of aid were clearing, with new co-ordination centres set up in Aceh and Jakarta.
But he warned major problems remained in getting aid to all the needy in Indonesia.
Top regional officials there have warned that in spite of improvements some places may not receive aid for up to two weeks. More than a third of Spanish tourists have cancelled their bookings to destinations affected by the Indian Ocean earthquake.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news