JOHANNESBURG - Data released this week by Airbnb shows that 13% of home hosts on Airbnb in South Africa work in the creative industry, such as film, art, design, fashion and music.

For many of them, home sharing provides a reliable source of income that can help them afford the more uneven income flow from pursuing their professions and passions.

When in need of ways to stabilise their income between projects, away from home working for extended periods, and living in cities that are getting more and more expensive, home sharing can represent an important economic lifeline for creatives.

Among the 4315 South African home hosts active in the creative industry, 64% said Airbnb helped them afford to stay in their homes and more than 6% saw Airbnb as their primary source of income.

This shows how Airbnb can provide artists with a flexible way to support their crafts and contribute to their communities. The inclusivity of the creative sector - open to people of all ages and backgrounds - is also reflected in the South African Airbnb host community; 50 percent of creative hosts are older than 50 and eight in 10 are women.

Through the newer offering of experiences, handcrafted activities for small groups of guests launched last year, Airbnb is also providing creatives with ways to build followings and earn income for sharing their work. Currently 17% of all active experiences in South Africa are creative.

Last year, 71% of South African Airbnb hosts recommended cultural institutions to their guests, while Airbnb guests to South Africa spent around 10% of their travel budget on cultural activities.

Heath Nash, an experience host on Airbnb in Cape Town, said: “I was looking for a way to best serve the art and design industry in South Africa.

“I wanted to encourage visitors to be creative, but in a way that benefits locals as well. That’s what we do at Our Workshop, where we offer an Airbnb experience in which visitors can use often non-recyclable materials to create new items that can be used.

“With us, guests are able to tap into their creative side by upcycling various items that often end up in landfills and are bad for the environment.

“This in turn means that we are cleaning up our city in a creative way, but also that the people of Langa, where Our Workshop is based, benefit from the creative talents of visitors.”

Airbnb  last year announced that it would invest $1million (R14m) through 2020 to promote and support community-led tourism projects in Africa. 

PERSONAL FINANCE