Photographer Thom Pierce travelled across South Africa to take photos of hosts that use the Airbnb platform in places like Soweto, Kayamandi and Khayelitsha. Picture: Thom Pierce.

If you are in Johannesburg this weekend, you should head to Airbnb’s exhibition titled “Faces of Tourism” at the Constitution Hill until November 3. 

The exhibition features portraits, sound recordings and quotes from twelve South Africans that use the Airbnb platform to participate in the tourism economy, highlighting that entrepreneurship and empowerment can occur in seemingly unlikely places. 

Photographer Thom Pierce travelled across South Africa to take photos of hosts that use the Airbnb platform in places like Soweto, Kayamandi and Khayelitsha as well as in more far-flung areas such as Kassiesbaai, which is not close to a city centre or the usual tourist hotspots. 

The exhibition tells a powerful story of the great potential for South Africa to reach its ambitious tourism goal of 21 million tourist arrivals by 2030 as set by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation Address earlier this year.

Pierce said it was fascinating to travel around the country and meet people who were excited about their venture.

“I like that I can showcase people who are being facilitated in taking control of their businesses and their futures in partnership with a large organisation. It’s a twist on the usual narrative of my work, which has previously focused on human rights violations,” he said. 

Velma Corcoran, Airbnb Country Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa Airbnb has welcomed over 2 million guests throughout South Africa since 2008.

 “South Africans are looking for innovative ways to create opportunities for themselves - much like the hosts who are part of our Faces of Tourism exhibition. 

“The Faces of Tourism Exhibition shows the transformative power of tourism and how it can be used to combat very real social and economic issues within South Africa,'' says Corcoran. 

The exhibition takes place from 10am and 4pm every day. Entry is free of charge.