On March 11, a 9-magnitude earthquake shook the north eastern coast of Japan and triggered a tsunami that wiped out everything in its path. The Japanese government has estimated that the cost of recovery and reconstruction from this disaster - the worst to hit Japan since World War Two - is close to US$309 billion.
Now, as the country battles aftershocks, scheduled power outages and a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, airlines and hotels worldwide have made their own contribution to the massive efforts to give the Japanese some relief. Below are six ongoing campaigns.
BEVERLY WILSHIRE HOTEL
Duration: Until December 30, 2011
What are they doing? Beverly Wilshire Hotel has decided to turn its 50th anniversary celebrations into an opportunity to raise funds for Japan. For US$50,000, the hotel is offering the "A Night With Friends" package where a guest and up to five of his friends can enjoy a night at the renovated Presidential Suite, use a dapper 1961 convertible Rolls Royce, a private in-room dinner prepared by Ari Rosenson, the chef de cuisine at CUT Steakhouse, and a sommolier-led tasting of vintage wines from Bordeaux. For each night booked under this package, the hotel will donate US$5,000 to Red Cross.
CATHAY PACIFIC AIRWAYS
Duration: April 8, 2011
What are they doing? Since the carrier is the official sponsor of the annual lively Rugby Sevens tournament, which took place last weekend, Cathay Pacific auctioned off the world’s largest rugby ball measuring 2.9m high and 4.7m long. Proceeds from the auction went to the Red Cross for its earthquake relief efforts in Japan and also in Yunnan and Christchurch. Until April 8, the carrier will temporarily divert donations made to its inflight Unicef "Change for Good" fund-raising programmet to the Unicef Japan committee to help with on the ground efforts.
Duration: Until April 12, 2011
What are they doing? HHonors members are encouraged to donate their reward points and Hilton will match their gifts with dollar-for-dollar donations to the Japan International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Guests can donate a minimum of 10,000 points, valued at US$25 in increments of 10,000 and Hilton has set aside up to US$250,000 for the initiative. To donate, email HHonors_Giving_Back@hilton.com detailing the number of points (in increments of 10,000) for donation to either the general or Japan IFRC fund. Include your name, address, Hilton HHonors account number, and the appropriate reward code.
THE PENINSULA HOTELS
Duration: Until May 31, 2011
What are they doing? The group launched a brand-wide "Hope for Japan" campaign comprising of three separate arms. The first part of the campaign will make a donation of US$10 to the Japanese Red Cross Society for each guest staying at the hotel within the time frame. Additionally, guests indulging in the signature Peninsula Afternoon Tea can opt for the Japanese Afternoon Tea now being served at all its properties where 100 percent of the proceeds will be channelled through as a donation. Finally, since paper cranes are symbols of good fortune in Japan, each Peninsula property will display a "Tree of 1,000 Cranes". Guests can add to the display by making a minimum donation of US$5 for an origami crane to hang on the tree.
'SONGS FOR JAPAN' CHARITY ALBUM
Duration: Available from March 28 onwards
What are they doing? For music lovers, four major record labels have united some of the industry’s biggest names for a 38-track charity album – “Songs for Japan”. The all-star album will feature popular tunes in original, remastered, live, or acoustic formats from Lady Gaga, John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Justin Bieber and other acts like Adele and Eminem. Every cent from each album download will go to the Japanese Red Cross Society, as the participating artists and their labels have waived their royal rights from the sales. The album can be downloaded now on iTunes for US$9.99. A physical two-disc CD will be available in stores from April 1.
UNITED CONTINENTAL HOLDINGS
Duration: Until April 30, 2011
What are they doing? United and Continental Airlines are working with Red Cross to run a bonus mileage programme for members of Mileage Plus and OnePass. Members who make a minimum donation of US$50 will receive 250 bonus miles. The airline group will set aside five million miles for this initiative. Each member can earn up to 500 bonus miles for a donation of US$100. Members should make donations at the dedicated microsite and then email their electronic receipts to either firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to receive the bonus miles.
Alisha Haridasani and Rachael Ho