Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Airbnb is on a mission to create business relationships with SA’s tourism industry.

Global head of public policy and public affairs Chris Lehane said at a media conference in Johannesburg he was visiting the country to meet state officials and tourism promoters.

Of the 43,400 active Airbnb rental listings in SA, 17,600 listings are in Cape Town and 4,300 in Johannesburg.

More than 100,000 rentals are listed on the Airbnb service in Africa and more than 2-million global guests to Africa had used Airbnb since September 2012, helping to spread tourism benefits beyond hotels and tourist hotspots to suburbs and towns.

Airbnb can be accessed via either the Airbnb website or via its mobile application. Hosts advertise their rental space on the service and registered users can book those spots

In the past year, 1.2-million guests used Airbnb to visit Africa, more than double than the previous year.

The typical African Airbnb host earns $1,500 annually and the typical listing on Airbnb is rented for 18 nights a year.

Across the continent, hosts have earned a total of $139m by opening their homes to guests. They can also offer experiences, such as excursions, for an additional charge, of which Airbnb takes a commission.

Lehane said he wanted Airbnb users to be able to access information and rent hosted properties near South African landmarks and specialised tourist centres.

"We have found that many Airbnb users want to come to SA and see something specialised and not only typical South African things, like Table Mountain," said Lehane.

"We want it to be that a user can stay in a house in Soweto and then see all the art in and near Soweto and the Airbnb application on their phone will direct them to this art."

Lehane was due to meet Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba to release a study about the service’s effect on Johannesburg’s economy.

Airbnb has committed $1m to boost community-led tourism projects in Africa from the end of 2017 until 2020.

The Airbnb study said local families and communities benefited economically and socially from using Airbnb.

The average host age in Africa is 43 and the host community is evenly split between women and men.

Mashaba said Airbnb needed to operate across the whole of SA so that more South Africans, including those in small towns and rural areas, could create wealth for themselves.

"Airbnb can become an option for ordinary men and women to create wealth.

"It can reduce some barriers to entry for entrepreneurs wanting to rent out their homes and bring tourists to their communities," he said.

andersona@businesslive.co.za

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