Economic Opportunities MEC, Beverley Schäfer is strongly opposed to plans by the government to regulate short-term home rental platforms like Airbnb. File picture

Cape Town - Economic Opportunities MEC, Beverley Schäfer is strongly opposed to plans by the national government to regulate short-term home rental platforms like Airbnb.

The draft Tourism Amendment Bill, currently out for public comment includes a definition of short-term home rental accommodation so as to place "thresholds" on their offering.

The Western Cape Government will be making submissions to oppose any regulations which could impact tourism revenue and affect people's private property rights.

Schäfer said: "The Western Cape Government is driving tourism growth and in order to develop this sector, we need a sufficient mix of  hotel, B&B and home rental room nights in order to accommodate a wide variety of tourists and budgets.

"According to Airbnb, they contributed R8.7 billion to the national economy between June 2017 and May 2018, creating jobs and opportunities for 22 000 people in South Africa. We need to stimulate innovation and use disruptors in order to put tourism on steroids in this province.

"The draft amendments currently do not mention what the thresholds will entail, and we expect these will be contained in regulations to be released at a later date. Any regulations that infringe on people's property rights, or impact a host's ability to earn a living must be rejected outright.

"Over 2 million people have made use of Airbnb alone in this country, and if regulations make it more difficult for travelers to access this kind of accommodation, they will simply vote with their wallets and go elsewhere. We cannot allow this to happen," Schäfer said.

"We've also seen a number of traditional hotels and bed and breakfasts using disruptor sites to market their accommodation and generate business this way. Additionally, we've seen Airbnb start to offer "experiences" which allow local entrepreneurs to offer unique tourism products to travelers and earn an income. Regulations could unintentionally impact these businesses and entrepreneurs. 

"The national government has already done extreme damage to this country's reputation as a tourist destination as a result of the introduction of a crippling visa regime. We cannot afford another clumsy and short-sighted mistake which could potentially harm this important sector further."

Cape Argus