People models in front of a Airbnb logo. Airbnb hosted almost 400 000 guests in their South African homes last year.Photo: Reuters
Cape Town - South African Airbnb hosts welcomed almost 400 000 guests into their homes last year, injecting R2.4 billion into the country’s economy.

Data released by Airbnb this week showed that South Africans opened doors to guests that included 150000 locals last year alone - a big jump from total arrivals of 38 000 in 2014.

Airbnb managing director for Africa and the Middle East Nicola D’Elia said the report showed that Airbnb supported regular South Africans to share their home, while growing and diversifying the tourism industry across the country.

D’Elia said the 37 percent of visitors last year were South African, the majority from Johannesburg.

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She said the average age of hosts were 45 years old, 36 percent were more than 50 years of age, 37 percent male and 63 percent female.

The report also showed that Airbnb visitors were no conventional tourists, as 85 percent wanted to live like a local, 79 percent chose Airbnb to explore a neighbourhood and 30 percent of all visitors said they would not have stayed as long as they did in the county were it not for the home-­sharing platform.

The report comes one-and-a half years after the launch of the Airbnb Community Compact, where Airbnb pledged to work with governments and tourism organisations and is based on internal company data from January 1 to December 31 last year.

Tourism Indaba

It also comes ahead of the Tourism Indaba, which takes place in Durban this month.

D’Elia said the report showed 16 000 South Africans hosted visitors last year.

“The typical host on Airbnb in South Africa shares their home for 16 days a year and earns an additional R28 000 a year where 40 percent of hosts are freelancers, entrepreneurs or self-employed and half use the income from hosting on Airbnb to help afford to stay in their homes,” D’Elia said.

The report said hosts in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban welcomed about 240 000 guest arrivals, boosting their local economies with a combined R1.9 billion last year.

Almost 200 000 of Airbnb guest were welcomed in Cape Town alone last year, boosting the local economy in the city by R1.7bn, of which 35 percent of guests spent the money they saved by staying on Airbnb on food, 7 percent on groceries, 16 percent on shopping, 13 percent on culture, 12 percent on leisure, 13 percent on transport and 4 percent on other costs.

D'Elia said Airbnb allowed regular South Africans to enjoy the benefits of tourism and was opening new economic opportunities for local families and communities.

“We want to be good partners to everyone in South ­Africa and support the responsible and sustainable growth of innovative forms of travel,” she said.