By Rachel England, Engadget
Puerto Rico suffered the worst natural disaster in its history in September last year, when Hurricane Maria tore through the island, causing devastation that’s still affecting its inhabitants. But it remains one of the most beautiful destinations in the world, and Airbnb wants to help it back on its feet with an expanded partnership effort to boost tourism to the area.
Over the next three months, the company will donate all fees from bookings in the island to local recovery organizations, and will launch 50 new experiences for tourists to sample local offerings, such as hiking in nature preserves and sailing in San Juan Bay. “It’s important to encourage people to continue to visit Puerto Rico,” Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said during a press event at the company’s San Francisco headquarters. “This is a superpower that Airbnb has.”
Faced with criticism over its impact on housing in cities around the world, Airbnb has been making moves to reinvent its image. In April, for example, it launched the ‘Office of Healthy Tourism’. Its work in Puerto Rico obviously buys in to this narrative, but regardless of the motive, Airbnb has had a tangible benefit in some quarters. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy it created a disaster response tool, helping to match displaced people with free beds or couches. It activated it again following Hurricane Maria, and more recently when President Trump’s travel ban left many immigrants stranded. Its business model might not be perfect, but its “superpower” certainly has the potential for a lot of good.