Airbnb catches on in Langa

2017-03-30 06:03
The nine women are all based in Langa’s Special Quarters, an area of 13 streets with about 500 homes.

The nine women are all based in Langa’s Special Quarters, an area of 13 streets with about 500 homes.

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Nine women entrepreneurs from Langa Township graduated from a programme that will help them boost their community by providing sustainable accommodation options to global travellers.

The graduates are the first class of hosts from Ikhaya le Langa, a non-profit organization aimed at revitalising the area through social enterprise and tourism.

The organisation has partnered with Airbnb to serve as a platform for these women to manage their businesses.

The nine women are all based in Langa’s Special Quarters, an area of 13 streets with about 500 homes.

Through the programme, participants develop their knowledge of the township’s culture and history and hone their culinary skills to give tourists a richer, more local experience, along with learning to manage their tourism offerings.

One of the graduates, 63-year-old grandmother Mabel Plaatjies, said the most important lesson she learned from the course was to give people love and a home.

“Money is important but I realised you must not look at the money, you must learn to show your guests love and they must feel like they have a home.”

The concept of the Langa Quarter came from Ikhaya le Langa’s Tony Elvin, who envisioned growing sustainable tourism businesses, underpinned by a cleaner, greener, safer ‘partnership’ approach.

“The grand vision for this beautiful community, is to release its true potential in order to stimulate business and attract sustained investment and create much needed employment,” he said.

Elvin is excited about the partnership with Airbnb: “Pair the entrepreneurial women of Langa, with a brand like Airbnb and watch the sparks fly. I am proud today to celebrate their graduation from IKhaya le Langa’s business development programme onto Airbnb,” he added.

The time is also ripe for the graduates to engage with Airbnb’s growing home sharing market.

Figures released by Stats SA show that 13% more international tourists hit South Africa’s shores in 2016 than the previous year. Airbnb’s South African hosts also saw a whopping 150% rise in international guests between 2015 and 2016.

Last year, Airbnb also went beyond the home sharing concept, expanding its people-centered approach to include other aspects of the trip, including Experiences by locals.

Experiences are handcrafted activities designed and led by local experts – be it a single activity like a Samurai Swordplay workshop or an immersive multi-day experience like learning about and driving classic cars in Malibu.

Experiences offer unprecedented access and deep insights into communities and places that you wouldn’t otherwise come across, such as Truffle Hunting in Tuscany or the grime music scene in London.

Elvin himself has a three-day Experience called True Townships that allows guests to explore a former apartheid-era court-turned-museum, featuring live performances by locals on what it meant to be black in apartheid South Africa, flavorful meals at Langa Quarter restaurants, and a joyous service at one of the area’s oldest churches.

Airbnb aims to spread the benefits of tourism to places like Langa with rich tapestries.

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