Airbnb has announced a new three-year commitment in South Africa to address barriers to becoming a tourism entrepreneur, and to help rebuild a more inclusive and resilient domestic tourism economy. Photo: File
Airbnb has announced a new three-year commitment in South Africa to address barriers to becoming a tourism entrepreneur, and to help rebuild a more inclusive and resilient domestic tourism economy. Photo: File

Airbnb has a plan to empower local tourism entrepreneurs

By Wesley Diphoko Time of article published Sep 26, 2021

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THE South African tourism industry has been one of the hardest hit industries by the pandemic.

Airbnb has announced a new three-year commitment in South Africa to address barriers to becoming a tourism entrepreneur, and to help rebuild a more inclusive and resilient domestic tourism economy.

The commitment, focused on infrastructure, training and investment, builds on Airbnb’s 2017 $1 million commitment in Africa to boost community-led tourism projects, and the Africa Academy, which has trained more than 300 hosts who earned more than R2.8 million in 18 months.

Building a stronger and more sustainable tourism industry in South Africa will take collaboration from all stakeholders, including Airbnb, and will require balanced and evidence-based regulation. In June, Airbnb set out its support for a simple, online and proportionate national registration system in South Africa as part of a five-point plan to re-boost tourism in the wake of the pandemic, and promote an inclusive and sustainable future for tourism.

Three new commitments will widen and support inclusion in the tourism economy by supporting existing tourism entrepreneurs, helping remove barriers to entry, and enabling a new generation of South Africans to benefit from the tourism economy, as travel returns following the pandemic.

With less than half of South Africa's rural population connected to the internet, digital exclusion poses a significant barrier to entry for many potential tourism entrepreneurs.

To tackle the digital divide, Airbnb has partnered with Ikeja, a company focused on providing fast, affordable wi fi to townships. Over the next two years AirBnB will work together with Ikeja to provide at least 100 Airbnb Academy Hosts and their communities with free wi fi. Each of these 100 Hosts will become a wi fi hotspot within their community, giving 100s of others access, resulting in a powerful network effect.

Since Airbnb launched the Africa Academy in 2017 it has trained more than 300 entrepreneurs in townships and rural areas, who earned more than R2.8 million in 18 months.

Airbnb is partnering with the University of Johannesburg School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH) to expand the Airbnb Academy programme to at least 1 000 students over the next three years.

In addition, the tech and hospitality giant will work with partners to take the academy to more communities in South Africa, including working with the Public Private Growth Initiative and the Waterberg municipality to run the academy in the District Development Model pilot.

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