The European Travel Commission (ETC), which represents national tourism organizations of Europe, says it "stands in solidarity with the Ukrainian people."
"The Russian military invasion in Ukraine is in direct opposition to the fundamental values of the European project and should stop immediately, the commission said in a statement posted to its website. "ETC strongly condemns this violation of international law and calls for all parties to work towards a peaceful resolution."
"The founding principle of ETC is to promote travel as a catalyst for peace, understanding and respect. This original mission is as valid today as it was when our organization was established more than 70 years ago in the aftermath of World War II. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring travel continues to build bridges between different cultures and people."
The ETC stands "ready to support the Ukrainian people fleeing conflict," the commission said.
"We praise the ongoing efforts of our members and industry partners to provide transportation, shelter and food to Ukrainian refugees."
The ETC outlined some examples of the outpouring of support, noting colleagues in Lithuania who launched a webpage and a hotline service for Ukrainian citizens in need of advice about relocating to Vilnius.
ETC’s associate member Airbnb is offering free accommodation for up to 100,000 Ukrainians displaced by the war and train operators from many European countries have offered free travel to Ukrainian refugees.
"We will continue working with the travel community to develop and further promote initiatives across Europe to help the people of Ukraine," ETC said.
"Our thoughts are with our travel and tourism colleagues in Ukraine, whose livelihoods have been needlessly destroyed."
ETC is said it is also mindful that the conflict will "negatively impact the travel and tourism sectors" of neighbouring countries as they slowly recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
"ETC is working together with the European Commission, and other European stakeholders, to mitigate the short and medium-term consequences and support affected colleagues," the commission said. "Travel is a force of peace towards a better future, and no aggression should stop it. European destinations remain safe to travel to."
Sabre takes a stand
Meanwhile, software and tech company Sabre Corporation is the latest travel company to take a stand against Russia's actions, announcing that it has terminated its distribution agreement with Aeroflot, the largest government-majority owned carrier in Russia.
"Sabre is taking immediate steps to remove Aeroflot flight content from its global distribution system (GDS), a marketplace used by travel agencies, travel websites and corporations around the world to shop, book and service flight reservations," Sabre said in a statement on Thursday (March 3).
“Sabre has been monitoring the evolving situation in Ukraine with increasing concern. From the beginning, our primary focus has been the safety of our team members in the impacted region, as well as doing our part to support the much-needed relief efforts,” said Sean Menke, CEO of Sabre. “We are taking a stand against this military conflict. We are complying, and will continue to comply, with sanctions imposed against Russia. In addition, today we announced that Sabre has terminated its distribution agreement with Aeroflot, removing its content from our GDS.”
The company said it will continue to monitor the situation and will evaluate whether additional actions would be appropriate, taking into account legal considerations and any counter measures that could be implemented in response.
To help support humanitarian programs in the region, Sabre, which has approximately 1,500 team members in Poland, has donated $1 million to the Polish Red Cross, a 100-year charity that does exemplary work in conflict zones and for supporting displaced people.
The funds donated by Sabre will be used by the Polish Red Cross to purchase, among other materials, much-needed food, hygiene products and sleeping bags, and will support the provision of medical assistance to those seeking shelter in Poland.