Airbnb and the Bahamas National Trust, a local NGO that protects 32 national parks in the country, offer five participants a unique opportunity to get away from the routine and live in an eco-friendly oasis through a Sabbath in the Bahamas.
While living in this country of more than 700 islands and 2,400 cays that have some of the clearest waters on the planet, participants will know the Bahamas in a unique way. Together with the Bahamans, they will work
to drive a number of local industries and preserve natural resources to help transform a country that is supported by travelers around the world. These industries, which face problems arising from a changing ecosystem and a decline in their population, play a key role in establishing the autonomy and self-sufficiency of the country’s «Family Islands», a name used by locals to describe how the hundreds of islands connect with each other.
In recent years, Bahamians have worked to pave the way for a more sustainable future for the Islands, implementing traditional agricultural practices, ethical fishing and coral reef revitalization. Through the Sabbath in the Bahamas, these local efforts are complemented by the Mission of the NGO, Bahamas National Trust, as they partner with participants in supporting these growing industries, protecting a variety of national parks, and empowering community leaders who lead these sustainability efforts.
«The Bahamas is ready to receive visitors as we work to restore some areas of the archipelago devastated by Hurricane Dorian,» said Eric Carey, Executive Director of the Bahamas National Trust. «Partnering with Airbnb is an incredible opportunity to help further preserve our culture and resources, share our diverse country and our local lifestyle with travelers from around the world.»
During April and May, participants will be inserted into three wonderful island destinations: Andros, Exumas and Eleuthera (which were not affected by the storm), immerse themselves in local cultures and complete several projects in important natural areas.
In Andros, home to the world’s third-largest reef system, participants will work alongside underwater and travel photographer Katie Storr to create a coral reef restoration program in North Marine Park, building and installing a new nursery, where fragments of coral reefs will be grown and then transplanted to affected areas throughout the destination. Participants will also explore blue holes, collect sea sponges and more.
Exuma, home to the country’s first national park, is known for its crystal clear waters teeming with marine life. Freediving expert Andre Musgrove will work closely with participants to replicate the Exuma Keys Land and Marine Park ecosystem in other waters around the destination that have been reached by invasive species, such as red lionfish. By carefully curbing the population of this fish, the team will help other reef-friendly species thrive. In addition, volunteers will participate in the conservation of the Pink Snail, the traditional construction of boats and boat trips.
Eleuthera, a long, thin island with pink sandy beaches, has many natural features such as the Leon Levy Native Plant Reserve, which also serves as a research center for traditional shrub medicine. Together with Omar Mcklewhite, a master gardener, participants will learn propagation techniques for native trees and create a tea bush farm. While in Eleuthera, they will also research native species, practice traditional pineapple cultivation and grow sea salt.
After two months, each participant will have collaborated with community leaders to create lasting programs that help maintain these practices, in the hope of making an economic impact for generations to come. They will also develop new experiences that visitors can book to directly benefit the local community, while supporting efforts towards a sustainable future.
«As the Bahamas rebuilds, it is a privilege to work together with the Bahamas National Trust to support and highlight a nation whose economy benefits from tourism,» said Chris Lehane, Senior Vice President of Global Policy and Communications at Airbnb. «To continue these efforts, we are also pleased to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Tourism to promote tourism in the country through Airbnb even beyond the Sabbath in the Bahamas. This is a special place and all those who have spent time on any of the islands that make up the nation are moved by the weather, the sun, the beaches, the food, the communities and especially the people.»
Those who wish to participate must enter airbnb.com/sabbatical and complete the application form. Before doing so it is important to carefully read the selection rules available on the website.
Candidates must be over 18 years old, speak English, and be available to live in the Bahamas for two months (April – May 2020) volunteering for the NGO Bahamas National Trust. Applicants will also have to demonstrate their commitment to want to contribute to the life of the place.
Sabbath in the Bahamas is a project promoted by the Bahamas National Trust, endorsed by the Ministry of Tourism of the Bahamas and sponsored by Airbnb. The final selection of the five participants will be announced on 25 March 2020. The Sabbath is open to residents over 18 years of age from the following countries and regions: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, mainland China, Denmark, Spain, United States, Dubai, France, Hong Kong, Ireland, India, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Norway, New Zealand, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand and Taiwan.
Selection rules are available on the website.