SA Gov signs deal with Airbnb in ‘first for Africa’

  • South Africa’s Department of Tourism has signed a deal with short-term rental platform Airbnb.
  • The partnership will see a national database established, as well as the launch of a tourism skills development programme.
  • The department says the deal is part of a larger initiative to continue recovering the SA tourism sector.

South Africa’s Department of Tourism, under minister Patricia de Lille, has signed a new multiprong partnership with American accommodation platform Airbnb. According to De Lille, this partnership is the first of its kind on the continent.

The agreement will see a series of collaboration efforts between the two entities, in the hopes of promoting South Africa’s tourism sector, one of the country’s most vital.

Additionally, the hope is that more jobs will be created through the partnership, which will see the establishment of a national registration system for “Short Term Rentals.”

Airbnb operates within the short-term rental space, with the usual stay of guests around 28 days.

The department says that this national database will “provide transparency” into the market, but it looks to be a way for the government to formalise the short-term rental industry in some capacity, away from just the purview of Airbnb.

It will also seek to develop a digital portal where government and tourism organisations can share data and insights into the sector.

Additionally, the department is set to launch a new skills development programme called Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy together with the platform. In 2022, the company established a series of academies in South Africa to teach individuals entrepreneurship skills, with several local partners.

This programme will apparently focus on bringing more disadvantaged communities into the tourism space through lowering of barriers to entry, such as funding.

“As government, if we want to significantly grow tourism and its contribution to the economy and job creation, collaboration with the private sector is vital. We are delighted to be the first African Ministry of Tourism to sign a collaborative MoU with a successful global company such as Airbnb,” shared De Lille in a press release sent to Hypertext.

“By leveraging Airbnb’s global reach and understanding of the market, this collaboration seeks to create a positive impact on local communities, travellers, and the tourism industry as a whole. The primary goal of this collaboration is to develop a relationship between the Ministry, its department and entity, and Airbnb, to harness and drive tourism domestically and internationally.”

Overall, the partnership is parter of a larger initiative by the department to continue recovering the tourism sector post-COVID-19. During the height of the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns, the sector perched on the brink of collapse, and it has still to return to the state it was in pre-2020.

“We look forward to working together with the Department of Tourism to help build a more inclusive and sustainable tourism economy in South Africa. The Airbnb platform can help anyone, anywhere, to become a tourism entrepreneur, and we hope to continue to break down systemic barriers to entry and enable more South Africans to participate in the sector,” explained Velma Corcoran, Regional Lead Middle East Africa at Airbnb.

The Department of Tourism says it will seek to continue collaborating with Airbnb at its upcoming Airbnb Africa Travel Summit held in Johannesburg in October.

[Image – BY-ND 2.0 GovernmentZA on Flickr]


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