Tips and resources for supporting independent travel and hospitality workers impacted by the coronavirus crisis.
It’s probably a surprise to absolutely no one that the travel industry has been hit hard by the pandemic. The lack of tourists in your home city may have clued you in, or maybe you had to cancel a year’s worth of travel plans. Perhaps you got wind that your favorite restaurant in your favorite city closed down or that boutique hotel you once stumbled upon was forced to shutter amid the crisis.
But behind these highly visible impacts are the workers that make up the industry we hold so dear. Governments around the world have made varying efforts to support companies and their employees. Many employers have rallied around relief funds for their own workers while waiting out the pandemic, but many have not. Some restaurants, hotels, and other travel companies have created bonds or gift cards you can purchase now to use later to help keep operations afloat, while others may have even opened back up for business amidst a struggling economic climate—and at great risk to customers and employees.
While it’s important to support places you know and love, it’s equally important to support travel industry workers without financial backing from an employer or government agency. Travel is a privilege, and until we can support these employers and workers with our foot traffic and our business, it’s imperative that we support them, however we can, from afar.
Below, we’ve outlined a few organizations that are working to support travel workers in the U.S. and abroad that might otherwise not have anywhere to turn.
11 Organizations Providing COVID-19 Relief for Travel Industry Workers
The ABF, which normally serves as a resource for career enrichment for hospitality workers, has started the Helping Hospitality Urgent Grant Program to support industry workers who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic. 100% of donations go to the fund and over 200 workers have been given $500 grants since April 1st.
This nonprofit organization began in 2015 to raise charitable funds that support workers in the food and beverage community (and their suppliers). They’ve run their Emergency Relief Fund since 2017, prioritizing workers with the most urgent financial needs.
One Fair Wage has been advocating for a livable minimum wage in the U.S., where the federal minimum is still only $2.13 for tipped workers. These workers, many of whom make up the travel industry, have been hit hard by the crisis, and the One Fair Wage Emergency Fund is supplying cash gifts to restaurant, service, and other gig workers in need.
4. CORE Gives
It’s one thing to be laid off from your restaurant gig; it’s quite another to also have to support a child in the middle of a pandemic. “CORE” stands for “Children of Restaurant Employees,” and the organization supports workers by providing financial relief when an employee with children faces an injury, death, or health crisis—including a COVID-19 diagnosis.
Have the empty bottles of wine ordered directly to your home piled up over months of quarantine? It may be time to give back to the workers who introduced you to your love of fermented grapes. The United Sommeliers Foundation serves to support those whose employment has taken a turn for the worse for circumstances beyond their control.
A majority female and heavily immigrant workforce of domestic workers such as cleaners and other car workers, who are already often undervalued and underpaid, are getting the short end of the stick in this pandemic. Consider supporting these highly valuable workers with a donation to the National Domestic Workers Alliance.
The USBG National Charity Foundation is designed to “advance the lifelong stability and wellbeing of service industry professionals through education & charitable activities.” Their Bartender Emergency Assistance Fund has put forward a COVID-19 Relief & Response program, but they need more funds in order to continue accepting more applications for distressed workers.
The James Beard Foundation Open for Good program is designed to help independent restaurants stay in business, a mission that’s never been more critical. Donate help keep the independent restaurant industry alive and thriving.
9. Unite Here
A union for travel industry workers—including hotel, gaming, food service, airport, textile, manufacturing, distribution, laundry, and transportation industry workers—in the U.S. and Canada that fights for racial and economic justice. Their COVID-19 Relief Fund helps hospitality workers impacted by the pandemic.
The National Restaurant Association has set up the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund to support restaurant industry workers experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 through grants. Whether or not this attracts or detracts you, Guy Fieri has put the full force of his influence behind this organization (we’re Team Fieri, for the record).
11. Opportunity Fund
Originally started in 1994 to level the small business playing field with a focus on economic justice, Opportunity Fund is now providing relief for small businesses affected by COVID-19. While not explicitly travel related, it’s the small, locally-owned businesses that make a travel experience special, and making sure they can continue to thrive will be all the more important once we can travel again.