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Miami Tourism Cares program launches

In cooperation with The American Red Cross, "Miami Tourism Cares" will provide immediate and long-term aid to Haiti through the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), which is spearheadin

Miami Tourism Cares program launches

In cooperation with The American Red Cross, “Miami Tourism Cares” will provide immediate and long-term aid to Haiti through the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), which is spearheading an effort to support the earthquake relief efforts.

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The multi-phase program launched today, incorporates immediate efforts to secure cash donations, as well as longer-term aid initiatives, with the cooperation of Miami tourism partners, residents, and visitors.

“GMCVB recognizes its responsibility in assisting the Haiti relief efforts,” said Steven Haas, board chair of GMCVB. “Greater Miami is home to a large Haitian community that plays an integral role in our tourism industry, with thousands employed at hotels, resorts, attractions, and restaurants. It is important we support our Haitian colleagues at this time of urgent and ongoing need, as well as for the long-term recovery.”

Phase I of the initiative is an immediate request for donations to the American Red Cross, through a dedicated account. The GMCVB will match all employee donations to the American Red Cross dollar-per-dollar and is calling on tourism industry members to donate to the dedicated account at http://american.redcross.org/GMCVB.

“In South Florida, so many of our neighbors are from Haiti and many still have family on the island,” said Sam Tidwell, CEO of the American Red Cross South Florida Region. “The best way for us to provide assistance is to make a monetary donation to the Red Cross.”

The second phase of the relief effort is in partnership with The Greater Miami and The Beaches Hotel Association (GMBHA) and will roll out in February 2010 with the launch of two special programs as part of “Miami Tourism Cares Month.” Miami hotels will encourage their guests to “Add-On, Add-Up” by asking at check-in if the guests would like to make an optional donation in various amounts – that would be added to their hotel bill. Hotels can also donate rooms to rescue workers, evacuated expatriates, and families of those receiving medical care in Miami through the “Be a Knight, Give a Night” program.

“We know the problems that Haitians face are not going to be solved overnight,” said Wendy Kallergis, president of Greater Miami and The Beaches Hotel Association. “That’s why our hotels in Greater Miami and The Beaches and tourism industry partners are dedicated to providing long-term support to the earthquake relief efforts and Miami’s Haitian community.”

Still in development, Phase III of “Miami Tourism Cares” will be a coordinated, long-term effort to allow Miami hotels to provide non-monetary, but much-needed, items throughout 2010 and beyond. Proposed programs include “Linens and Things,” where accommodation providers can donate linens, pillows, mattresses, and other soft goods, as these items are changed out. GMCVB will also encourage tourists to pack a few extra articles of clothing to donate and drop off at collection points within participating hotels through the “Pack Heavy, Leave Light” plan.

The initiative’s website, www.MiamiTourismCares.com, launched by GMCVB, is a central location for industry, locals, and visitors to obtain information on fundraising efforts across Greater Miami and the Beaches. The website details how to make donations, as well as lists participating tourism partners, fundraising events and concerts. Miami tourism industry partners can make donations to the American Red Cross, online at http://american.redcross.org/GMCVB; or by sending a check payable to: American Red Cross, f/b/o GMCVB Haiti Relief Effort, 335 S.W. 27th Avenue, Miami, FL 33135.