Small towns are gaining traction among domestic travellers. Fort Beaufort in the Eastern Cape is, according to Airbnb, one of the most hospitable towns in South Africa.
For the past four years, Airbnb has been sharing its list of the most hospitable areas around the world as part of the company’s hospitality index.
The results for the “most hospitable” cities and regions in the SA based on reviews through June 2019 to June 2020 – meaning the places with the highest percentage of listings with 5-star reviews - are in. Fort Beaufort, isn’t on the radar of many tourists, offers a scenic drive from the sleepy town of Hogsback.
Fort Beaufort, while close to its popular neighbour of Hogsback, has tons to offer those who visit, too - it has a fascinating history.
The area was originally home to the Xhosa people before British Settlers arrived and pushed the Xhosa across the Keiskamma River. Forts were built in similar styles to those used along the coast of England and so the area developed into what is now.
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Another town known for its hospitality is Plettenberg Bay in the Western Cape. It’s not only easily accessible by car and plane for those who live in the Western Cape, but also for those in the Eastern Cape as it sits right on the border of the two provinces.
This beach town is small but has tons of charm and the area is often full over the summer holidays as holidaymakers from across the country flock to enjoy a holiday at the coast.
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Swellendam and Worcester are also featured. Both small towns inland in the Western Cape have its own appeal. These areas and surrounds are known for sprawling farm and rural lands outside of the main town hubs.
Pre-lockdown, farm stays were becoming more popular as many farmers found that they have buildings on their premises that can be transformed into accommodation to share on Airbnb.
This innovation not only creates an extra source of income, but it diversifies business and brings in a new type of work as guests book these rural stays.
Also included in some of SA’s most hospitable areas is Benoni. For everyday South Africans, this might seem at odds with the other areas on this list as Benoni is not exactly on the tourism map.
But it is right next to O.R. Tambo International Airport and is often the venue for many national conferences, and is near Carnival City in Brakpan where many international live performances take place.
To help these hospitable small towns get the attention they deserve, Airbnb recently partnered with a range of destination marketing and other tourism organisations to highlight off-the-beaten-path places as new ways of travelling.
Partnerships with Wesgro (the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape) and Tourism KwaZulu-Natal - partnerships that go a long way in keeping these towns top of mind for potential visitors.