With the number of refugees worldwide at an all-time high, a few corporations in the private sector have stepped in to ease the strain of relocation. In the U.S., online travel site TripAdvisor has teamed up with the International Rescue Committee to launch their initiative called "Welcome Home" to help refugees become familiar with their new surroundings once they're settled in their new country.
While the IRC is tasked with the job of helping with resettlement and adjusting to relocating from war-torn homelands, TripAdvisor is offering refugees a chance to book a trip or a tour in order to help them get acquainted with their surroundings. These trips and tours will help take away some of the trepidation that comes with relocating to a foreign land. In New York, for example, the company is offering more than 1,400 options that include a lengthy trip of Ellis Island as well as the Statue of Liberty. Another popular option is a daylong bus and boat trip to check out the Brooklyn Bridge, Lincoln Center and the 9/11 Memorial.
Refugees who find themselves building their lives in northern California, especially the San Francisco area, get access to tours of the Golden Gate Bridge, a ferry junket to Sausalito, a tour of the Muir Wood National Monument, or a boat cruise in San Francisco Bay. All tours, which range in cost from $50 to $130, are free to refugees.
“They’ve been through trauma,” said David Miliband, the IRC's president about the recipients of the initiative. “Booking a TripAdvisor Experience is a way to give these refugees an understanding of where they now live and help them integrate into their new communities.”
It's an idea long overdue, given that the U.S. is one of the most requested destinations for refugees around the globe. According to The World Bank, an international sustainability advocacy group, the number of refugees stands at roughly 22.5 million, the highest it's been since statistics began tracking them in 1962. Included in that tally are those who fled Syria (5.5 million), Afghanistan (2.5 million), South Sudan (1.4 million), and Somalia (1.0 million).
TripAdvisor had previously hooked up with the IRC on a venture back in 2015 when it asked its membership for donations to help refugees when the civil war in Syria was accelerating to the point where civilian lives were in danger. They raised $1.4 million that year as well as $5 million in 2016.