Last year, Airbnb contributed more than R23.5 billion to the economy, supporting almost 50 000 jobs, with the typical host earning around R32 500, according to a new report from Genesis Analytics.
Airbnb is an American San Francisco-based company operating an online marketplace for short- and long-term homestays and experience.
The report, commissioned by Airbnb and released this week, highlighted that the vacation rental company more than doubled its contribution to the growth of inclusive tourism since 2019.
Domestic travel on the platform grew by more than a third from 2019 to last year, with the fastest growth seen outside the typical tourist destinations
The report comes ahead of the Airbnb Africa Travel Summit on October 24, where more than 200 policymakers, tourism experts, innovators and change-makers from across the continent will gather to explore, innovate and collaborate on building an inclusive and sustainable tourism industry across Africa.
According to Genesis Analytics, the Airbnb platform helped drive economic growth across South Africa in both new and existing destinations, and played an important role in the recovery of tourism after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The report also highlighted how Airbnb was increasingly popular among South Africans both wanting to rent their homes and looking for affordable accommodation options in diverse locations when they travel.
As domestic travel on the platform grew by more than a third from 2019 to last year, the fastest growth was seen in non-traditional tourist hotspots, with seven out of 10 trending destinations on the platform located outside of traditional tourist hotspots.
In an Airbnb survey, three in five guests said booking on Airbnb saved them money and one-third said they specifically chose Airbnb over other types of accommodation to save money.
Amid the increasing cost of living, local hosts and their communities were also benefiting as a typical South African host earned around R32 500 last year, amounting to just more than R4bn in total host earnings – a 25% increase from pre-pandemic levels in 2019.
Half of the hosts across South Africa said the money they earned from hosting helped to cover the rising cost of living, and over a third said the additional income helped them make ends meet.
South African cities with the fastest-growing stays on Airbnb were Mafube in the Free State, Impendle in KwaZulu-Natal, Nala in North West, AbaQulusi in KwaZulu-Natal and Witzenberg in the Western Cape.
The next ones were Emalahleni in Mpumalanga, Hantam in the Northern Cape, Mahikeng in North West, and Chief Albert Luthuli and Emakhazeni, both in Mpumalanga
Airbnb regional lead for Middle East and Africa Velma Corcoran said they believed there was immense potential for inclusive growth in South African tourism, and were committed to making travel and hosting more accessible, safe, diverse, and affordable for everyone.
“We are proud to have more than doubled our economic impact, meaning more South Africans in more places are benefiting from increasingly local and inclusive tourism. We look forward to continuing to work together with the government and wider tourism industry to create more economic opportunities for locals and showcase the best of South Africa to domestic and international guests, ” Corcoran said.
This week, the Department of Tourism said the tourism industry was one of the sectors hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, with far-reaching impact, and numerous destinations were grappling with other major stresses and shocks, ranging from electricity or water shortages to extreme weather events.
The department said recovery from Covid-19 provided an opportunity to implement transformational shifts as the travel and tourism sector created a more resilient and inclusive future.
“As the tourism sector is bouncing back, it will continue its growth, providing crucial jobs for people all over the world and drive long-term sustainable growth.
“To secure the future of travel and tourism, along with the businesses and communities that sustain it, the sector must prepare for future crises and manage ongoing challenges.”