Airbnb tourism model supports 22,000 jobs across South Africa

Airbnb has released a new report showcasing how Airbnb in South Africa attracts new guests who are seeking different experiences, ensures local residents benefit from this tourism growth, and helps to empower a far more diverse range of people and places. The report also includes a new analysis by Genesis Analytics, demonstrating how in the past year the ripple effect of host and guest activity on Airbnb generated an estimated $678 million in economic impact in South Africa, supporting over 22,000 jobs across the broader South African economy.

The report was presented by Chris Lehane, Airbnb Global Head of Public Policy and Public Affairs, at the Africa Travel Summit in Langa. This event - organised by Airbnb - brings together thought leaders from across Africa  to discuss how technology can help more people to benefit from tourism and is part of Airbnb’s $1 million investment in community-led tourism projects in Africa. The report shows that:

Airbnb helps grow tourism and attracts guests who are seeking different travel experiences

Since Airbnb’s founding, 2 million guests have arrived at listings on Airbnb in South Africa and 3.5 million guests have arrived at listings across Africa as a whole, with roughly half of these arrivals occurring in just the past year. The African continent actually features three of the top-eight fastest growing countries for guest arrivals on Airbnb (Nigeria, Ghana and Mozambique).

This growth is mainly generated by guests seeking a different travel experience; 8 in 10 guests choose the Airbnb platform to explore a specific neighbourhood and two-thirds of guests choose Airbnb as they believe the environmental footprint is smaller while the benefit to the local economy is higher. And while Cape Town still remains popular, guest arrivals on Airbnb in cities such as Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria and George are seeing encouraging growth, showcasing how guests using Airbnb are eager to discover new destinations.

Airbnb helps to grow the economy and ensures local residents directly benefit from it

In contrast to travel that is mass, corporate and less sustainable, Airbnb helps to ensure that locals - who keep up to 97 percent of the accommodation charge - directly benefit from tourism’s economic growth. Since Airbnb’s founding, hosts across South Africa have earned over $260 million and, in the past year, the ripple effect of the activity of the Airbnb community resulted in an economic impact of $678 million, supporting over 22,000 jobs. For many South Africans, hosting on Airbnb helps them to make ends meet and to stay in their home, especially given that half of them are freelancers, work part-time, or are stay-at-home parents. The economic benefits generated via travel using the Airbnb platform are also better spread as more than half the guests’ spending occurs in the local neighbourhood where they stay, which is in many cases outside of tourist hotspots.

Airbnb helps to empower a more diverse range of people and places

Airbnb’s community of home hosts in South Africa has grown to date to over 35,000 and the majority of them are women (65%). For many of them, being able to turn their greatest expense - their home - into a source of additional revenue is good news. Thanks to Experiences - a new feature on the Airbnb platform through which locals can share their interests, hobbies and passions with visitors - more South Africans can now participate in and contribute to local tourism, sharing their skills and favourite experiences with others, whilst making some extra money. South Africa now counts hundreds of Experiences across Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, with many more communities to come. The average earnings for someone who hosts Experiences in South Africa six times per month is $14,000 annually and almost one-third of the Experiences booked in South Africa are Social Impact Experiences of which all the proceeds go directly to a non-profit. As part of our vision to spread the benefits of tourism to the many, Airbnb is also supporting tools and information relating to hospitality and technology for residents from rural and underserved communities across Gauteng and the Western Cape via the newly formed Airbnb Africa Academy.

Chris Lehane, Global Head of Public Policy and Public Affairs for Airbnb, says: “A person who travels should try to take something with them and leave something behind - that’s the concept I learned about when visiting President Mandela’s Museum in Johannesburg in 2017. This idea speaks to the transformative power of travel that can create new economic opportunities and drive people-to-people connections - what we call healthy travel. At Airbnb our community model of healthy tourism is based on advancing the interests of all the stakeholders. Today’s report shows how Airbnb’s community model creates healthy tourism by benefiting the hosts who share their homes and passions, the guests who are seeking authentic cultural experiences, and the local residents whose cultures, experiences and economies are celebrated and supported. We look forward to working with all stakeholders across South Africa and beyond to see how we can continue to spread tourism benefits to more people and communities.”

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