Airbnb puts a positive spin on SA’s tourist economy

Posted by Gabrielle Jacobs on 15 October 2018

About 35,000 South African hosts have benefitted from the increasingly popular web hospitality service Airbnb. Of this number, 65 per cent of the local hosts are women. This activity, according to a report compiled with Genesis Analytics, has affected an estimated R8.7 billion in economic impact in the last year, resulting in 22,000 jobs across South Africa.


The report focuses on Airbnb’s positive impact on South Africa’s tourist economy since the company was founded 10 years ago.  Tourism and business has been booming since then, with two million guests taking up lodging in South Africa alone, and 3.5 million altogether on the continent.  Of the two million guests who’ve stayed at these local B&Bs, nearly half are estimated to have checked in in the last year.

According to the report, the Mother City remains the most popular city by guest arrivals, likely due to Cape Town being the first in Africa to sign on with Airbnb, but listings in Pretoria and Durban are being taken up swiftly. Elsewhere on the continent, Nigeria, Mozambique and Ghana find themselves in the top eight of Airbnb’s fastest-growing countries for guest arrivals.

The report also mentions how Airbnb is committed to investing USD$1 million to developing and providing educational and technological resources in Africa until 2020, with a keen focus on community involvement and economic opportunities for neighbourhood businesses.

While the company’s expansive reach and popularity has helped many hosts meet their financial needs, there are concerns the world over that it doesn’t bode well for all tourism sectors. The convenience and competitive rates Airbnb offers are not industry compliant and the company and its hosting users are not liable to commercial and private taxes in the same ways that their competition, hotels and registered B&Bs, are. The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) has previously called for regulations of the platform to make the dealings more fair for other businesses in the industry.

In a bid for better relations, South African Tourism joined with Airbnb to host the 2018 Africa Travel Summit in Langa, Cape Town last month. ‘We are thrilled that key decision- and policy-makers combined with influencers and innovators from across Africa will be joining this event,’ SA Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona told the press.

It remains to be seen, however, whether the government will try to regulate this trendy forerunner of the expanding share economy.


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