Tourism

TRAVEL TREND: Astro-tourism is the next big thing in sustainable travel

Travel trend alert! Sound the alarm folks, Travel Weekly’s trend radar is going off the charts!

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Airbnb has flagged astro-tourism as the next big thing in travel. Stargazers and astrology nerds: now is your time to shine.

The home-sharing app has noted strong growth in travel linked to astronomical events and to destinations known for star gazing.

Last year, more than 50,000 Airbnb guests from 26 countries travelled to the US for the solar eclipse, and there are nearly 3,000 homes listed on the platform offering telescopes.

Airbnb also found that the United States, France and Italy are the three countries with the highest number of stargazing-ready listings.

Trending astro-tourism destinations include Antofagasta (327 per cent year-on-year growth), a Chilean city located next to the Atacama desert, which is home to some of the best telescopes in the world and one of the prime locations to watch the stars. Other trending stargazing destinations include La Palma, Spain (90 per cent), home of GTC; Kiruna, Sweden (134 per cent); and Yarmouth, Canada (221 per cent).

To highlight the importance of astro-tourism, Airbnb is partnering with Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Gran Telescopio Canarias (GTC) and Fundación Starlight in Spain’s Canary Islands.

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The aim is to promote astro-tourism as a more sustainable form of travel which brings the economic benefits of tourism to more remote and rural regions, away from built up tourist areas.

“We are very excited to share this experience with Airbnb guests around the world, as this year’s Mars close approach will be the most spectacular since August 2003,” Romano Corradi, Director of GTC said.

“On July 27, Mars and Earth will be at opposition, which means the planet will shine brightest, and it will be accompanied by a unique lunar eclipse – the perfect opportunity to stargaze. The exact closely approach will be on July 31 when Mars will be only 57.6 million Km away from Earth.”

The night of the 27th will also feature the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century, in which the moon will turn red in a phenomenon sometimes known as a “blood moon.”

That night, Airbnb hosts will be offering for stargazers to visit the largest single-aperture optical and infrared telescope in the world.

Due to the sheer power of the giant telescope, guests will use smaller telescopes to clearly see Mars in its full red glory in one of the best stargazing spots on the planet.

The Experience, hosted by Juan Antonio González, a local astronomy guide and night photography expert, and Antonio Luis Cabrera, chief of scientific operations of GTC, will transport guests to outer space within the dome of the telescope and show them the importance of dark-sky preservation.

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