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House of Travel Lends Assistance

House of Travel Lends Assistance

With more New Zealanders in the Tsunami affected areas than first thought, information held by travel agents is proving extremely useful in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs task of locating where people are and their state of health.

House of Travel has been proactively working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since the 27th December providing full lists of customers known to be in the effected area and where necessary, passport details.

Tony Moffatt commercial director for House of Travel confirmed that the company's owner operators and staff from the 90 retail outlets throughout New Zealand had returned from holiday to make contact with as many customers as possible.

"This has been a huge but important task for us to undertake. It has been easier where we have booked peoples' land arrangements in addition to their flights. Where we have arranged accommodation, we are able to confirm all of our customers are okay and establish whether they wish to either stay on, relocate to a new destination or return home" Mr Moffatt said.

House of Travel was also working with its ground operators in each of the effected areas who were providing vital information on the status of hotels, infrastructure of the various effected areas and whether it was appropriate for people to still travel if future holidays have been booked.

"We are getting a number of enquiries from people booked to travel to Thailand. While some hotels are fully functional in these areas both our ground operators and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs are advising that people should not travel to the west coast or south of Thailand including Phuket, Khao Lak and the surrounding islands. There are major concerns regarding water, sewerage and food supplies and people should be reassessing their holiday plans to these areas," Mr Moffatt urged.

Moffatt said most people were committed to taking a holiday and were currently looking at re-booking to other destinations such as Australia, the South Pacific, Vietnam and Bali.

"If people are insured through us, our insurers Mike Henry Insurance are providing 100% cover for loss of deposits and we are working where possible with airlines and hotels to have cancellation fees minimised," he confirmed.

After the latest reports House of Travel is now checking for customers travelling in the following areas; Tanzania, Bangladesh, Somalia, Kenya and Seychelles.

House of Travel has made its 90 outlets throughout New Zealand collection points for the Red Cross Appeal and donated $1,000.

Red Cross operations manager Andrew McKie commented that corporate support was vital.

"The support endorsement from organisations such as House of Travel certainly helps us to connect with everyday New Zealanders and allows them to contribute to this worthwhile cause."

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