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National Park Foundation, Airbnb partner on staycation campaign

Updated August 28, 2020 - 4:14 pm

Talk about a room with a view.

The nonprofit foundation that supports America’s national parks suggests you get out of town, leave the tent at home and spend a quiet night among the Joshua trees. The National Park Foundation announced Tuesday a campaign with Airbnb encouraging people to book a night in a short-term rental outside one of the country’s national parks.

The campaign launch coincides with the National Park Service’s 104th birthday and urges responsible travels and forays into nature.

An extension of a partnership between the National Park Foundation and Airbnb that began in 2017, the new campaign highlights three less-frequented parks as a means to enjoy the outdoors in the age of COVID-19: Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River in New York and Pennsylvania; North Cascades National Park in Washington; and Mojave National Preserve near Baker, California.

These three parks may not be the first ones that come to mind for the average traveler — that’s the point.

While there are more than 400 national parks across the country, 50 percent of visitation took place in 27 parks last year, according to the National Park Foundation.

“Now is a great time to remind people that they don’t have to look far to experience nature, culture and adventure through national parks,” said Stefanie Mathew, senior vice president of corporate partnerships at the National Park Foundation. “Parks offer fun, comfort, relaxation, and education for all of us, and they can be found nearby too.”

People are starting to travel again after a drop at the beginning of the pandemic, but they’re not going very far, Airbnb spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusco said. More than two out of every three new Airbnb users since March 11 have booked a trip within 300 miles, or a day’s drive, according to Airbnb information published Monday.

“Travelers are getting in their cars with their families and going over hill and dale to safely and responsibly explore their own backyards in the great outdoors — and national parks represent the perfect destination,” Airbnb’s senior vice president for global public policy and communications, Chris Lehane, said in a news release.

Airbnbs may also provide the privacy and proximity to the outdoors that people seek in a pandemic, particularly those outside less-popular parks, DeBold Fusco said.

“We really wanted to highlight, specifically, unique parks that maybe local residents might not be aware are so close, that makes for such a great nearby destination,” DeBold Fusco said.

Mojave, roughly an hour’s drive, is the closest to Southern Nevada of the three parks highlighted in the campaign. The number of recreational visits has dropped since the onset of the pandemic; 54,742 people visited the preserve in March, compared with 71,407 in the same period last year, according to the most recent data from the National Park Service.

People who can’t traverse to the desert can avoid the sun and sand with a virtual trip, DeBold Fusco added. Airbnb compiled a list of Mojave sounds to re-create the experience: the busy buzzing of bees, the morning warbles of birds, the click-clack of Union Pacific train tracks.

She reminded potential park visitors, especially first-timers, to learn about the park before they visit and recreate responsibly.

Contact Mike Shoro at mshoro@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5290. Follow @mike_shoro on Twitter.

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