Airbnb and Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló jointly announced new partnership initiatives Wednesday for the vacation rental home marketing giant to promote tourism returning to the island.

The initiatives will include promotions of Puerto Rico through Airbnb, the launch of an “Experiences” program, essentially private package tours to what Airbnb calls authentic Puerto Rican activities, and the company’s agreement to donate its fees for three months for homes and tours to non-profit organizations helping with Hurricane Maria relief efforts on the island.

The company also pledged to increase marketing efforts to promote Puerto Rico tourism.

“The future is bright for the tourism sector of Puerto Rico. Leveraging the power of the Airbnb platform, we have the opportunity to increase 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,” Rosselló stated in a news release issued by the company after Wednesday’s press conference.

The company stated its business in Puerto Rico has rebounded since Hurricane Maria devastated it last September. Since October, nearly 112,000 guests have stayed with nearly 3,000 hosts on the island, earning the hosts more than $17 million, the company stated in the release.

“Puerto Rico has long been a top destination for travelers looking to experience its rich culture, beautiful scenery, and incredible hospitality,” Airbnb Chief Executive Officer Brian Chesky stated in the release. “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 travelers from around the world, and empower Puerto Rico’s businesses and people to build an even stronger travel industry than before the hurricane.”

Leading the non-profit efforts supported by Airbnb is All Hands and Hearts, which addresses the immediate and long-term needs of communities impacted by natural disasters by engaging and leveraging volunteers, partner organizations and local communities. Airbnb has worked with the organization since 2015, leveraging its host community to accommodate its volunteers. So far in Puerto Rico, All Hands and Hearts has completed nearly 250 projects on the Island and volunteers have dedicated nearly 25,000 hours to rebuilding and recovery efforts.

Through its voluntary collection agreement signed in August 2017 with the government of Puerto Rico, Airbnb has already remitted $1.6 million in taxes to the Puerto Rico Tourism Company to help promote tourism to the Island, and Airbnb pledged to work with that office to further market the island and destinations in the Experiences program.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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