By Samantha Shankman
September 29, 2015
Copyright Pierre Crom
| Credit: Pierre Crom

Every month, tens of thousands Syrians flee their home country, traveling over the Mediterranean or through the Western Balkans to apply for asylum in Eastern Europe. In response, travel companies—airlines, hotels, and more—are implementing policies and putting resources toward providing shelter and employment for refugees.

TripAdvisor was one of the first major travel companies to step forward. In addition to donating $250,000 to the International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps, TripAdvisor emailed it users requesting donations—and offering to match their gift. The company also offered five vacation days to staff members who want to travel to volunteer.

Smaller companies are also lending a hand. Take as one example the Greek government’s use of ANEK Lines’ ferryboat Eleftherios Venizelos, which was chartered to serve as an accommodation and identification center for refugees. The ship travels between Kos, Kalymnos and Leros, picking up and transporting thousands of passengers.

Inflight Feed, a site dedicated to reviewing in-flight meals, called on the larger aviation industry to help refugees. Several brands responded, including Monarch Airlines, which volunteered to fly donations from the U.K. to Kos, Greece, with 11 cargo containers of food, clothing, water, and sleeping bags.

The list goes on. British Airways donated 1,000 sleeping bags, KLM sent Inflight Kids Packs, and London Stansted’s in-flight caterers offered space for donation storage. Other unnamed in-flight suppliers are providing halal ready-made meals and reusable coffee cups.

Separately, United Airlines joined a group of major corporations, including McDonalds and DreamWorks, in donating funds to help United Nations’ World Food Programme.

Individual hoteliers and restaurateurs began lending a hand as early as last spring. The Magdas Hotel in Vienna, pop-up restaurant Mazi Mas in London, and the Skunha café in Ljubljana are employing and offering housing to migrants.