A charitable fund is being launched to support communities worldwide that are reliant on tourism and desperately in need of financial aid.

The Charitable Travel Fund, which will be administered through registered charity The Charitable Travel Foundation, goes live on November 1 with a team of trustees from the industry who have more than 175 years of travel experience behind them. They are: Chris Lee, Melissa Tilling, Sue Papworth, Debbie Haw, Sarah Loftus and Steve Thompson.

Funds will be raised through close engagement with the travel industry, with businesses encouraged to support and get involved with the charity, as well as through donations from the travelling public.

From launch, the fund will support two projects through its partners Tourism Cares and United Purpose to help communities that depend on tourism.

The first is in Siem Reap in Cambodia where like-minded hotels have joined forces as ‘Hotels Joining Hands’ supported by Tourism Cares and other groups to provide 400 meals a day to people most affected by the current economic crisis. The country has seen a 99% downturn in international arrivals because of Covid-19 and many businesses have been forced to close.

The project has already delivered more than 50,000 hot meals to communities dependent on tourism. A donation of £1 per day feeds someone in need in food aid.

The second project is the United Purpose AFFA Women and Girls For the Future group and 22 other women’s groups of market gardeners in Guinea, West Africa, to protect and rebuild their livelihoods following Covid-19.

It aims to help them diversify their customer base, which includes hotels and resorts currently hit by the pandemic. This project needs £25,000 from The Charitable Travel Fund to make a real difference.

To raise money for these projects, the fund will ask businesses in the travel industry to pledge a minimum of £1 per booked passenger.

Organisations of any size will be encouraged to support the fund, including homeworkers, travel agencies, tour operators, cruise lines, hotels, airlines and car rental firms.

The fund aims to provide an affordable way of making an impact on communities and helping them to recover from the legacy of Covid-19.

There will be membership options for supporting organisations. The charity has created a ‘Proudly Supporting’ logo for organisations involved in donating and there is a one-off donation option on the fund’s website.

Profits from the group’s travel agency and social enterprise Charitable Travel – the first partner of the charity – will also be donated to the fund. Charitable Travel, set up by former Funway managing director Melissa Tilling, is separate to the fund and donates funds to charities of customers’ choice by sacrificing commission it makes on bookings.

Tilling said: “We hope our travel industry colleagues will be generous and pledge to support the Charitable Travel Fund. We will certainly be working hard to encourage the industry to help those tourism communities in need around the world. The two projects are perfect examples of communities where there is no welfare state that are suffering deprivation, where Covid-19 has decimated their usual tourism income.”

There are also plans for fun fundraising activities during the year for the industry to get involved in through sponsorship and by taking part.

Lee, chair of the trustees, said: “Like most of us in the travel industry I have had the opportunity and privilege to enjoy the incredible destinations and experiences that tourism enables worldwide.

“This opportunity is made possible by the people in those destinations. Hotel workers, tour guides, waiters and chefs, transfer drivers and countless others ensure we have the holidays we look forward to each year.

“We owe these communities so much for enriching our lives and now we seek to help those people in these communities who need our help, when they need our help.”

He added: “In places that substantially depend on tourism income for the wellbeing and livelihood of the people in the local economy, we want to help when tourism is impacted by events outside of their control.”