Why Airbnb is looking for 5 people to move to the Bahamas for 2 months
TORONTO -- Looking to spend two months in the Bahamas? Airbnb is hoping to make that happen for those willing to participate in local eco-projects -- while also helping to lure tourists back to the island after a devastating hurricane.
The U.S.-based online platform is partnering with Bahamas National Trust -- a non-profit that runs the country’s national park service -- to offer five people the chance to temporarily move to the Bahamas, as part of the island’s tourism and natural resource restoration efforts.
People will “embed” on the islands of Andros, Exuma, and Eleuthera -- three of the country’s nearly 700 others -- and dive into local cultures and be a part of ongoing environmental projects. These include helping to restore a coral reef, building traditional boats and helping to plant a bush tea farm.
But winners won’t just be scoring a free trip.
Organizers hope the attention from the “Bahamas Sabbatical” will help lure more visitors back to the country, which depends on tourism to fund its rebuilding efforts in the wake of Hurricane Dorian. The deadly Category 5 hurricane that caused catastrophic damage in 2019 is regarded as one of the worst natural disasters in the Bahamas’ history.
“The Bahamas is open for business and while we work to restore parts of the archipelago devastated by Hurricane Dorian, the vast majority is ready for visitors,” Eric Carey, executive director of the Bahamas National Trust, said in a press release.
He called the partnership with Airbnb an “incredible opportunity” and a means to “preserve our culture and resources and share our diverse country and the Bahamian way of life with the world.”
The “Bahamas Sabbatical” is endorsed by the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.
From April to May, the five winners would be volunteering for the non-profit organization Bahamas National Trust, which acts as the caretaker of 32 national parks.
The group, created in 1959, also helps maintain the upkeep and conservation of the island’s forests, coral reefs and seashores, which also helps bolster the tourism and fishing industries.
'Bahamas Sabbatical' follows similar trips to Italy, Antarctica
During the participants’ time in the Bahamas, they'll be working alongside an underwater photographer to help restore coral reefs, and also learning about invasive species and traditional pineapple farming, among other things. Destinations include the Leon Levy Native Plant Reserve, North Marine Park, and Eleuthera’s pink sand beaches.
The project’s overall goal is to stimulate the country’s economy by showcasing these and Airbnb’s other “Experiences,” which are activities people can book through Airbnb on the island. The platform says these trips directly benefit the local community.
This type of weeks-long immersive trip is the third Airbnb has rolled out, after trips to Italy and Antarctica. The Bahamas trip is the first so-called sabbatical to launch in 2020.
The contest is open to residents (aged 18 years or older) from nearly three dozen countries including Canada, Mexico, Thailand, Germany and the United States.
All five winners will be announced on March 25, 2020.