Malaysians invited to help preserve Bahamas environment

Eleuthera in the Bahamas. (AFP pic)

NASSAU: Airbnb has joined forces with the Bahamas National Trust to offer five travellers an opportunity to spend two months in the archipelago to help with environmental projects in the wake of the damage wrought by Hurricane Dorian, which ravaged the tropical destination at the end of the summer of 2019.

Travellers who were moved by images of the devastation on the Abaco islands and Grand Bahama caused by Hurricane Dorian last September are being given a chance to help out in the archipelago by Airbnb’s “Sabbatical Programme”, an initiative that enables members of the online accommodation marketplace to discover exceptional destinations while getting involved in environmental causes and which notably took travellers on a mission to Antarctica at the end of last year.

In partnership with the Bahamas National Trust, which manages 32 national parks on the islands, Airbnb is now offering free trips to the warm destination.

Those lucky enough to be selected for the Bahamas Sabbatical will participate in projects to preserve the natural environment, which is an important lever for growth and tourism in the Bahamas.

Five travellers will be chosen by the programme to stay and work in the archipelago in April and May of this year.

Hosted on Andros, Exumas and Eleuthera – three islands that were not affected by the storm – the volunteers will participate in the creation of a reef restoration programme, which will collect coral fragments that will later be regrown in a nursery.

They will also count red lionfish, an invasive species whose population must be curbed to ensure that it does not take over the islands’ delicate marine ecosystem.

Finally, they will be immersed in Bahamian culture, taking part in the harvesting of sponges and sea salt, the construction of traditional boats and the planting of pineapples and bush tea.

Those who are interested in taking part in the programme should submit an application before Feb 18, on Airbnb.com/sabbatical, which warns that participants must be able to conduct a conversation in English in order to be selected.

Besides Malaysia, countries whose nationals are eligible to apply include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Mainland China, Denmark, Dubai, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, the UK and the US.

The names of the five participants selected will be announced on March 25.