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Airbnb’s pursuit to restore Puerto Rico’s tourism business after Hurricane Maria

Condado Beach, Puerto Rico

Airbnb’s Brian Chesky and Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló announced a new partnership to drive tourism and support the island as it builds back after Hurricane Maria.

On 20 September 2017, a devastating Hurricane Maria struck the island of Puerto Rico (a United States territory), causing the longest blackout in US history. Some 3.3 million citizens were affected by the storm, bringing floods, hunger and colossal damage to the island. It is the tenth most intense Atlantic hurricane on record and regarded as the worst natural disaster on record in Dominica and Puerto Rico.

To help the island’s people get back on their feet, Airbnb has launched its Experiences feature on the island. The initiative will give guests an authentic Puerto Rico experience through unique, handcrafted activities hosted by locals. The home-sharing giant will also donate its fees for the next three months to local volunteer and recovery organizations.

“We look forward to working with these important partners to unlock the magic of the island” – Brian Chesky

Airbnb’s co-founder, CEO and head of community, Brain Chesky, is now keen on helping the island bounce back. He said: “Puerto Rico has long been a top destination for travellers looking to experience its rich culture, beautiful scenery, and incredible hospitality.

“Its determination in the face of such daunting challenges has amazed and inspired us, and we look forward to working with these important partners to unlock the magic of the Island for more travellers from around the world and empower Puerto Rico’s businesses and people to build an even stronger travel industry than before the hurricane.”

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A couple looks at their home, destroyed by Hurricane Maria

The aftermath of Hurricane Maria has certainly caused a major setback in Airbnb’s business in Puerto Rico. But since October last year, the company has rebounded with nearly 3,000 hosts and 112,000 guests, earning more than US$17 million.

The launch of roughly 50 Experiences across the island will contribute even more to the local economy. This will include experiences from sailing at sunset in San Juan Bay, to hiking in the mountains of Puerto Rico, to touring San Juan’s nightlife with a local musician.

“The future is bright for the tourism sector of Puerto Rico.” – Ricardo Rosselló

Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rosselló has a positive outlook as well, he said: “The future is bright for the tourism sector of Puerto Rico. Leveraging the power of the Airbnb platform, we have the opportunity to increase the visibility of the Island as a travel destination, making it more sustainable, more diverse, and allowing more residents to benefit from the economic opportunities that tourism provides.”

A street musician serenades visitors in Old San Juan

Through its Voluntary Collection Agreement in August 2017 with the government of Puerto Rico, Airbnb has already remitted $1.6 million in taxes to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company (PRTC) to help promote tourism to the Island.

This initiative is part of Airbnb’s move to promote its Office of Healthy Tourism which was launched last month. It aims to drive local, authentic and sustainable tourism to regions around the world.

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