Hotels say that Airbnb is killing the tourism industry in South Africa. File pic
Major entities in the hospitality industry in South Africa have called for government to step in an regulate Airbnb, according to a City Press report.

Airbnb has seen impressive growth in South Africa, and local hotels are concerned that the unregistered accommodation establishments listed on the platform are taking away business from established bed-and-breakfasts and hotels.

The Federated Hospitality Association of SA (Fedhasa) called for government to crack down on Airbnb, and smaller organisations have echoed this call.

The Port Elizabeth Metro Bed and Breakfast Association (Pembba) added that Airbnb brought in over R6 million in Nelson Mandela Bay last year, 65% up on the previous period.

However, the formal hotel sector only saw an increase of 0.08% in the same area.

“The city must come up with a plan to regulate Airbnb, said Nelson Mandela Bay metro economic development executive director Anele Qaba.

“The tourism industry, which pays taxes in the city is not happy. They are saying the Airbnbs – which is not regulated and can afford to undercut prices since they do not have overheads – are killing the industry.”

Pembba chairperson Sheena Wilmot called Airbnb a “massive problem”, adding that the playing field between traditional accommodation and Airbnb must be levelled.

Attractive platform

While hotels may be against unregulated competition, the Airbnb app is an attractive platform for South Africans looking to make money from their property.

This is especially true for locals who live in areas of high tourism, such as Cape Town.

In October 2018, figures showed that South African hosts had earned over $ billion (R14 billion) since the platform was first founded in 2008.
 
Airbnb said it supports over 22,000 jobs across South Africa, and the popularity of the platform is growing quickly each year compared to traditional tourism sectors such as the hotel industry.

It is currently unclear whether Airbnb will be subject to local regulation or what form that legislation will take.