It’s no secret that Puerto Rico has been in a bad way since the devastating 2017 hurricane season left much of the island without power, water, and food. U.S. citizens and private companies have banded together in a big way to bolster the rebuilding efforts that our government seems unwilling or incapable of handling. Now, Airbnb is coming to the island’s aid with the local launch of Airbnb Experiences and a commitment to donate 100 percent of the program’s proceeds to the rebuilding efforts.
Airbnb announced a limited launch of Airbnb Experiences last August. The program promised to do for local tour operators what it had successfully done for home sharing. Local tour guides in destinations around the world can now offer their expert guide and tour services directly through the Airbnb marketplace. Experiences allows travelers to book immersive, one-of-a-kind tours with locals who know their destination best. The catalog of offerings ranges from the relatively ordinary (beekeeping classes in Los Angeles and writing a TV script with a professional writer) to the adventurous (professional surf lessons and camping with wolves under the stars).
It’s no surprise these bucket list-worthy experiences have proven wildly successful — and profitable — for Airbnb. Now, the company is finally debuting the service in Puerto Rico. But, most importantly, they’ve pledged to donate the fees from both Airbnb Experiences and their standard accommodation bookings within Puerto Rico for the next three months to the island’s recovery efforts. All proceeds will directly fund All Hands and Hearts and other local non-profit organizations.
The program is debuting in Puerto Rico with almost 50 experiences. Many highlight the things that make the island a unique haven for travelers, like sunset sailing excursions in San Juan Bay and hiking adventures in El Yunque National Forest. But, a number of interesting niche offerings are available as well. Visitors to the island can play manatee caretaker for a day, take a coconut and island survival workshop, or savor the island’s most popular tipple at the Rum Runner Craft Cocktail Experience.
In the wake of multiple storms in 2017, La Isla del Encanto has bounced back surprisingly fast. Since Hurricane Maria, the Airbnb community alone has welcomed more than 112,000 guests and earned more than USD $17 million. However, the island still needs help, and this initiative has the potential to inject millions into the local economy.