Airbnb said the ripple effect of host and guest activity on its platform generated an estimated $678 million in economic impact in SA. Supplied

CAPE TOWN - Online hospitality company Airbnb said on Wednesday the ripple effect of host and guest activity on its platform generated an estimated $678 million in economic impact in South Africa, supporting over 22 000 jobs across the broader economy.

The report was presented by Airbnb global head of public policy and public affairs, Chris Lehane, who told the Africa Travel Summit in Langa in Cape Town that hosting on Airbnb helps many South Africans make ends meet, given that half of them are freelancers, work part-time, or are stay-at-home parents. 

"Airbnb helps to grow the economy and ensures local residents directly benefit from it," Airbnb said. "In contrast to travel that is mass, corporate and less sustainable, Airbnb helps to ensure that locals - who keep up to 97 percent of the accommodation charge - directly benefit from  tourism’s economic growth."

"Since Airbnb’s founding, hosts across South Africa have earned over $260 million and, in the past year, the ripple effect of the activity of the Airbnb community resulted in an economic impact of $678 million, supporting over 22 000 jobs," it added.

The African continent features three of the top eight fastest growing countries for guest arrivals on Airbnb, namely Nigeria, Ghana and Mozambique, with this growth mainly generated by guests seeking a different travel experience.

"While Cape Town still remains popular, guest arrivals on Airbnb in cities such as Johannesburg, Durban, Pretoria and George are seeing encouraging growth, showcasing how guests using Airbnb are eager to discover new destinations," said Airbnb.

The economic benefits that are generated via travel using the platform are better spread as more than half of the guests' spending occurs in the local neighbourhood they stay in, which is in many cases outside of tourist hotspots.

A new feature on the Airbnb platform called Experiences now allows locals to share their interests, hobbies and passions with visitors, allowing more South Africans to participate in and contribute to local tourism, share their skills and favourite experiences with others, whilst making some extra money. 

"A person who travels should try to take something with them and leave something behind - that’s the concept I learned about when visiting President Mandela’s Museum in Johannesburg in 2017. This idea speaks to the transformative power of travel that can create new economic opportunities and drive people-to-people connections - what we call healthy travel," Lehane said.

"At Airbnb, our community model of healthy tourism is based on advancing the interests of all the stakeholders."

The report says the average earnings for someone who hosts Experiences in South Africa six times per month is $14 000 annually.

Airbnb is also supporting tools and information relating to hospitality and technology for residents from rural and underserved communities across Gauteng and the Western Cape via the newly formed Airbnb Africa Academy.

- African News Agency (ANA)