WATCH | Airbnb pumped more than R23bn into SA's economy in 2022
Airbnb pledges to continue to drive inclusive, sustainable tourism growth in Africa
A new Genesis Analytics Economic Impact report highlights that Airbnb contributed more than R23.5bn to the SA economy in 2022 — a 115% increase from pre-Covid-19 levels.
The global tech company, which enables hosts (homeowners and hotel operators) to rent out accommodation for short- or long-term stays via an online booking platform, first launched in the country in 2015.
“Airbnb is driving great economic impact in SA,” said Velma Corcoran, regional lead: Middle East & Africa at Airbnb. “We’ve doubled our contribution to the GDP [in the last three years] and have supported 50,000 jobs. The key driver in this growth has been domestic tourism. More South Africans are using Airbnb as a more accessible and affordable way to travel.”
Corcoran was speaking on the sidelines of the Airbnb Africa Travel Summit in Johannesburg. Bringing together 200 policymakers, tourism experts, innovators and changemakers from across the continent, the summit aimed to explore, innovate and collaborate on building an inclusive and sustainable tourism industry across Africa.
WATCH | Velma Corcoran, regional lead: Middle East & Africa at Airbnb, shares highlights from a report highlighting the economic impact of the company in SA. She also reveals how Airbnb plans to fulfil its pledge to drive inclusive and sustainable tourism growth on the African continent.
The summit kicked off with Airbnb pledging to commit its resources and expertise to drive growth on the continent.
“What we want to do is to find ways that we as Airbnb can support inclusive growth. This pledge signals Airbnb’s commitment to wanting to be a good partner and wanting to work with governments on making sure that the growth on Airbnb is inclusive and sustainable,” said Corcoran.
Speaking via video at the opening of the summit, tourism minister Patricia de Lille commended Airbnb for contributing to a more inclusive tourism sector in SA. “If we want to grow an inclusive tourism sector, the government cannot do it alone. If we can realise our full potential then we will certainly begin to accept the importance of tourism and the impact on our lives,” she said.
The Economic Impact report also highlighted that 53% of Airbnb hosts in SA are using their earnings from the platform to cover the rising cost of living, with a typical South African host earning about R32,500 in 2022.
“My thing was getting off the grid of dependency — and Airbnb has provided me with that opportunity. And if I can share it with others in my space that makes me feel very happy. That makes me feel like I’m contributing,” said Mosidinyana Phohlela, an Airbnb host in Parow North near Cape Town.
Another surprising finding from the report was that out of the 10 fastest-growing local cities on the platform, seven are located outside traditional tourist hotspots, leading to growth and spending in less common tourist areas.
“In our tourism sector currently, the highest growth is domestic tourism. That’s why we need to expose those hidden gems in the small towns, small villages and the townships,” said De Lille.
“I would love for us to continue seeing lots of growth coming out of SA and the continent,” said Corcoran. “I think the key phase we are in right now is about laying the foundation. Making sure that we have good relationships on the ground, that we recognise our hosts, that we build partnerships with governments. So for the next year or so my team is going to be very much focused on delivering on this pledge.”
This article was sponsored by Airbnb.