Herman Mashaba and Chris Lehane. Image supplied.
Herman Mashaba and Chris Lehane. Image supplied.

JOHANNESBURG - The world’s largest accommodation provider Airbnb on Tuesday announced that it will invest $1-million through 2020 to promote and support community-led tourism projects in Africa.

Chris Lehane, Airbnb Global Head of Public Policy and Public Affairs said “Africa is home some of the most welcoming communities and breathtaking landscapes on earth. By leveraging technology to boost people-to-people tourism in Africa, we can help build a new economic engine for local families and their communities, while helping more guests enjoy magical travel experiences through the eyes of locals”.

“Airbnb travel is already delivering significant economic benefits for Africa and today's investment will help kickstart new benefits for more people across AfricaLehane, made the announcement at a press conference in Johannesburg City Hall together with Mayor Herman Mashaba and Hermione Nevill, World Bank Group’ Senior Travel Specialist.

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It followed the presentation of a study demonstrating how Airbnb hosts in Africa have welcomed 1.2 million guests to the continent in the past year, while earning a combined $139 million in host income. Lehane said that this commitment was part of its vision to empower communities through home sharing and to promote people-to-people tourism that benefits local families and their communities.

“This will help more locals to turn their passions into economic opportunities and showcase the best authentic experiences that guests might otherwise miss,” said Lehane.

He said that the investments will be put to work in 2018 and will focus on empowering townships through hosting, promoting sustainable and inclusive tourism through technology, and supporting locals and nonprofits through Airbnb travel.

Meanwhile, Lehane also released a study highlighting the economic and social benefits of travel using Airbnb for local families and their communities. 

The study shows that there are now more than 100,000 homes listed on Airbnb in Africa and that there have been more than two million all-time global guest arrivals using Airbnb, helping spread tourism benefits beyond hotels and tourist hotspots to the places local residents call home. 

Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba said "Johannesburg is a city of inclusivity. As the new administration, our goal is to ensure equitable and sustainable growth, especially in our poorest communities. Any initiative that assists the City in accomplishing our goal is welcomed”.

Herman Mashaba and Chris Lehane. Image supplied.

Mashaba said that the African continent needs to create entrepreneurial mindsets in the whole population; this can only be done if they show people that they already have the tools needed to participate in the economy.

Lehane added that Airbnb can be a major engine for economic empowerment throughout Africa.

“We look forward to working with communities across the continent to harness their innovative spirit and technology on our people-to-people platform to help spread tourism benefits across Africa.”

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE