Airbnb recently announced a new three-year commitment in South Africa to address barriers to becoming a tourism entrepreneur, and to help rebuild a more inclusive and resilient domestic tourism economy.
The commitment, which focuses on infrastructure, training and investment, builds on Airbnb’s 2017 US$1mcommitment in Africa to boost community-led tourism projects, and the Africa Academy, which has trained more than 300 hosts who earned more than R2.8m (€167 200) in 18 months.
Airbnb also set out its support for a simple online national registration system in South Africa as part of a plan to re-boot tourism in the wake of the pandemic, and promote a sustainable future for tourism.
Three new commitments will widen and support inclusion in the tourism economy by supporting existing tourism entrepreneurs, helping remove barriers to entry, and enabling a new generation of South Africans to benefit from the tourism economy, as travel picks up again following the pandemic.
With less than half of South Africa’s rural population connected to the Internet, digital exclusion poses a significant barrier to entry for many potential tourism entrepreneurs. To tackle the digital divide, Airbnb has partnered with Ikeja, a company that focuses on providing fast, affordable Wi-Fi to townships.
Airbnb has partnered with the University of Johannesburg School of Tourism and Hospitality to expand the Airbnb Academy programme to at least 1 000 students over the next three years. In addition, they are working with partners to take the Academy to more communities in South Africa, most recently in the Waterberg municipality.
Preciousstone Raputsoa, Municipal Manager for the Waterberg District, says: “We believe that Airbnb has an important role to play in equipping people in our communities (especially women and youth) to benefit directly from our district’s incredible tourism offerings. We’re particularly excited that Airbnb’s model lowers the barriers to entry and allows the informal sector to flourish.”
While COVID-19 devastated the entire travel industry, entrepreneurs from township and rural communities are particularly at risk. Building on their work in 2020 where they invested R1m (€59 754) to launch an Africa Academy Fund, Airbnb is contributing an additional R1.5m (€89 632) to support Africa Academy graduates from township and rural communities who have been hardest hit.