Astro-tourism: Airbnb launches ‘blood moon’ experience

The Milky Way - Astro-tourism
The Milky Way, visible next to Gran Telescopio Canarias

Airbnb has launched a unique Social Impact Experience to offer guests a close view of the Red Planet by visiting the world’s largest telescope, the Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) in Spain’s Canary Islands.

In today’s experience-driven industry, astro-tourism has become of interest and it’s steadily gaining ground. To capitalise on this trend, Airbnb is offering a truly one-of-a-kind experience to its guests and hosts – a glimpse of the Red Planet through the world’s largest telescope.

From 27 July to 31 July, Mars will draw closer to the Earth as it has been in 15 years. In effect, the red planet will cause the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st-century in which the moon will turn red, a phenomenon called the ‘blood moon’.

On the night of the 27th, Airbnb hosts will offer stargazers a visit to the largest single-aperture optical and infrared telescope in the world, the Gran Telescopio Canarias. The experience will be hosted by Juan Antonio González, a local astronomy guide and night photography expert, and Antonio Luis Cabrera, chief of scientific operations of GTC.

Mars (left) and the Milky Way (right) - Astro-tourism
Mars (left) and the Milky Way (right), visible from an Airbnb listing in La Palma

Joe Zadeh, head of Airbnb Experiences, commented: “This experience at GTC is an extraordinary opportunity for travellers worldwide to marvel at the beauty of the night sky, and to educate the general public on why it’s important to preserve it.”

“Astro-tourism is an environmentally friendly, authentic, sustainable way to travel”

“Astro-tourism is an environmentally friendly, authentic, sustainable way to travel that can economically empower lesser-known, rural communities, and we are proud to be boosting this phenomenon thanks to hosts who share their home or passion for astronomy on the platform.”

Guests preparing to observe Mars - Astro-tourism
Guests preparing to observe Mars in one of the best locations on the planet

The 6-hour experience will give the opportunity to clearly see Mars in its full red glory in one of the best stargazing spots on the planet and show them the importance of dark-sky preservation. It will only be available once for up to six guests, on a first come, first served basis at EUR 40 (USD 46) each. All booking fees will be donated to WWF Spain.

Other trending astro-tourism destinations include Antofagasta (327% year-on-year growth) a Chilean city located next to the Atacama desert which is home to some of the best telescopes in the world; La Palma, Spain (90%); Kiruna, Sweden (134%); and Yarmouth, Canada (221%).

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