Tourism in Joburg is set for a massive explosion after US-based Airbnb announced yesterday that it will invest R13.40-million to promote and support community-led tourism projects on the continent yesterday.
The announcement was made by Chris Lehane, Airbnb Global Head of Public Policy and Public Affairs, at the Johannesburg City Hall together with Joburg Executive Mayor Herman Mashaba and Hermione Nevill, World Bank Group’ Senior Travel Specialist.
The commitment is part of Airbnb’s vision to empower communities through home sharing and to promote people-to-people tourism that benefits local families and their communities. Airbnb allows people to earn extra income from sharing extra space in their homes or from sharing their passions, interests and cities.
According to the company, Airbnb hosts in Africa have welcomed 1.2 million guests to the continent in the past year, while earning a combined R1.9-billion million in host income.
“Africa is home some of the most welcoming communities and breathtaking landscapes on earth. By leveraging technology to boost people-to-people tourism in Africa, we can help build a new economic engine for local families and their communities, while helping more guests enjoy magical travel experiences through the eyes of locals.
“Airbnb travel is already delivering significant economic benefits for Africa and today’s investment will help kickstart new benefits for more people across Africa,” said Lehane.
Statistics from Airbnb show that Joburg welcomed 51 500 guests from September last year to September 2017, injecting R197-million into the economy. Most hosts earn an average of R14 900 a year.
Mayor Mashaba welcomed Airbnb’s gesture and said the tech-based company will revolutionise tourism and open up new opportunities for Joburg residents.
“Johannesburg is a city of inclusivity. As the new administration, our goal is to ensure equitable and sustainable growth, especially in our poorest communities. Any initiative that assists the City in accomplishing our goal is welcomed.
“The African continent needs to create entrepreneurial mindsets in the whole population; this can only be done if we show people that they already have the tools needed to participate in the economy,” said Mayor Mashaba.
Airbnb ran a pilot programme earlier this year - together with local partners - to support training in hospitality and technology for residents from townships across the Western Cape. Given its success, Airbnb will expand the programme - which is especially targeted at women and young people from underserved communities - to 15 more township communities across South Africa, and scale the programme to other countries inAfrica in 2019.
The company will host the ‘Africa Travel Summit’ in May next year and bring together 80 thought leaders from across the Continent, to share best practices, exchange ideas and to co-create a vision for how technology can best be used for inclusive and sustainable tourism growth.
Hermione Nevill, Senior Travel Specialist at the World Bank Group, said: “Tourism in Africa is expected to continue its rapid growth. It is vital toensure this growth occurs sustainably and drives poverty reduction across the continent. It is encouraging to see travel technology platforms such as Airbnb investing in Africa, and piloting more inclusive forms of tourism growth.”