Lonely Planet commits $A500,000 to the communities and people devastated by this week’s tsunamis.

MELBOURNE: “These communities and their peoples are Australia’s nearest neighbours.  We have a long association with them, and of course, with the travellers who visit them,” said company co-founder, Tony Wheeler.  “We are particularly concerned about the more remote destinations such as Aceh in Indonesia and the Andaman Islands of India as these communities will take the longest to recover and are likely to be the most in need for a long time.”

“Lonely Planet has a long history of helping out with projects which really make a difference at the local community level.  We want to continue this focus in how we donate our $A.5 million over the coming months”, said Wheeler. 

“We will give an immediate donation of $A50,000 to the Red Cross, $A50,000 to Care Australia, $A50,000 to Oxfam-CAA and $A50,000 to the Save the Children Fund. We will then donate the remainder to specific local community initiatives over the next six months”.

“Since Sunday night the Lonely Planet website (www.loneyplanet.com) has been a global gathering point for people looking for information, finding missing persons, donating to aid organisations, and, helping out.  We’re making changes to the site daily to keep travellers and their families up-to-date with news in the aftermath of this tragic event.”

Wheeler adds, “The Lonely Planet community is responding and has really swung into action. “It is sobering to see the number of postings and interactions on the site but it is also incredibly heartening to see how people are helping each other.  There has been responses from all over the world.”

Australia’s lead role in helping its nearest neighbours through this tragedy is critical.  The government’s recognition of this and its pledge of $35 million reflects Australia’s commitment”, says Lonely Planet CEO, Judy Slatyer.

Slatyer continues, “In a year of strong profits, a booming economy and record share market values, we believe corporate Australia is up to the challenge of matching the governments $35 million for this disaster.  The donation by Qantas yesterday of $1 million is a great start.  If there was ever a time for corporate Australia to dig deep and if there was ever a time when it can afford to do so, this is it.”   

To post messages to Lonely Planet online ‘missing persons’ page or for more information the affected areas go to: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/tsunami/