Airbnb partners with Bahamas National Trust for post-Dorian sabbatical

Bahamas: Airbnb has partnered with NGO Bahamas National Trust to announce their joint Bahamas Sabbatical, where five lucky volunteers will help to restore the country after being devastated by Hurricane Dorian.

The venture is being called a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help preserve an archipelago” by Airbnb as restoration efforts continue following the hurricane between August 2019 and September 2019. Dorian was also the most intense tropical cyclone on record to strike the Bahamas, and is regarded as the worst natural disaster in the country’s history, with wind speeds peaking at 185mph.

In a press statement, the two organisations explained that the sabbatical is also designed to encourage travellers to return to the islands after the hurricanes. 

Bahamas National Trust executive director Eric Carey said: “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.

“Partnering with Airbnb is an incredible opportunity to help further preserve our culture and resources and share our diverse country and the Bahamian way of life with the world,” he added.

As part of their work for the sabbatical, the participants will get the opportunity to work on practices with local experts, including agricultural work, ethical fishing and coral reef revitalisation. They will be stationed across the three islands of Andros, Exumas and Eleuthera throughout April and May this year.

In Andros, participants will team up with underwater travel photographer Katie Storr to implement a coral reef restoration programme in North Marine Park, which houses the third-largest reef system on the globe. They will be tasked with building a nursery to facilitate the growth of reef fragments that will then be transferred to the most badly-hit areas on the other islands. 

In Exuma, freediver Andre Musgrove plans to work with the volunteers to create a replica Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park ecosystem, as well as ward off species such as the red lionfish which will have an impact on the wildlife there. 

Finally, in Eleuthera, the five guests will meet gardener Omar McKlewhite to learn about techniques for growing more trees to develop a bush team farm. In doing so, they will also come face-to-face with native species, participate in pineapple farming and sea salt harvesting.

Senior vice president of global policy and communications at Airbnb, Chris Lehane, said: “As The Bahamas rebuilds, it’s a privilege to work together with the Bahamas National Trust to support and shine a spotlight on a nation whose economies are benefited by tourism. 

“To continue these efforts, we’re also pleased to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Tourism to promote tourism to the country through Airbnb even beyond the Bahamas Sabbatical,” he added.

Anyone over the age of 18 who is available to stay in The Bahamas for the two-month duration of the sabbatical from April to May 2020, can apply at the sabbatical website here, where they will also find more information about what they will be doing to restore community life in The Bahamas.