CAPE TOWN - The farming industry is tough. Like every other industry, it’s battling water shortages, along with the ever increasing cost of fuel. Yet despite this, South Africa’s economy grew by a mere 1.3% in 2017, according to Statistics SA, while the agricultural sector saw the highest growth (17.7% over the past year).
So, what’s their secret? While these figures relate to farmers making money from their produce, it’s worth noting that South Africa’s farmers are becoming more entrepreneurial and looking for innovative ways to make extra money. This can be seen in the number who are using Airbnb to generate some extra income.
Many farmers are finding they have buildings on their premises, which they can transform into accommodation to share on Airbnb.
This innovation not only creates an extra source of income, but it diversifies business and brings in a new type of work ‒ welcoming people from around the world.
In many ways farms are ideal for Airbnb guests. Set in the beautiful countryside, farms serve as excellent stops between destinations on long road trips and offer a unique insight into rural life.
For travellers looking for an authentic, local experience, farm stays offer the perfect chance to meet local communities away from the typical tourist hotspots.
As part of a growing trend towards agritourism, Airbnb has noticed a significant rise in the number of farms being listed across South Africa.
Farm owner and Airbnb Host Jacqui Pols said she has long used Airbnb when travelling around South Africa and overseas and has always loved staying in local homes.
“Based on my own experiences, I thought it would be a nice platform to market my cottages on,” she said.
“We have had people stay in our cottages from all over the world. In this way we have met many interesting people from around the world. Some of these people (now friends) have invited us to visit them in their homes when travelling to their country.”
There are many benefits of listing on such booking platforms, according to Pols, including reviews from your guests, exposure to new potential guests around the world and, of course, the extra income.
In Mpumalanga, Airbnb host Pieter Erasmus explains that they were looking for ways to earn extra income on their farm when they discovered Airbnb.
“We were not expecting anything to happen. The first booking came out of the blue after we had almost forgotten about Airbnb.
“The income has certainly helped a lot. We are able to use the money to do renovations to our home. The biggest benefit, however, is the springboard to develop our farm into a tourism business.”
Now, farmers looking to diversify their income can also consider Airbnb Experiences ‒ activities or excursions that are led by passionate local hosts ‒ which launched across the country in July this year.
Farmers and tourism entrepreneurs can submit unique Experience ideas for their area, providing further opportunities for additional revenue for hosts, and drawing tourists into lesser-known rural areas and small communities.
“The expansion of Experiences across all of South Africa will help to boost tourism outside of city centres by attracting more people to rural and regional areas.
Experiences help spread the benefits of hosting to those who do not have space in their house to rent out. This is also a fantastic way for visitors and locals to experience parts of South Africa that they would otherwise miss, had it not been for these Experiences led by passionate locals,” said Velma Corcoran, Country Manager for Airbnb South Africa.