Airbnb pilot programme helps to empower SA communities

Some of the programme participants during training. (Supplied)
Some of the programme participants during training. (Supplied)

Cape Town - On World Tourism Day - Wednesday September 27 - Airbnb celebrates the success of its pilot programme aimed at economically and socially empowering locals from communities in South Africa where access to tourism is not always easy.

The programme - developed in collaboration with Open Africa, the South African College for Tourism and the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi) - is the first of its kind by Airbnb in SA. The aim is to support communities to better their futures through tourism.

Airbnb now aims to enrol more communities across the region in the programme.

The programme consisted of ten modules and focused on everything from exploring how to list a home on Airbnb to managing online payments and creating a compelling guest experience.

Since its launch, 15 residents - mostly women - from a number of townships across the Western Cape have already participated.

The programme is open to everyone, including people who do not own their own homes. This is because Airbnb’s co-hosting feature allows hosts to add co-hosts to their account such as family members or trusted friends to help with some of the hosting responsibilities.

They can help with as much or as little as is needed, and can then split the Airbnb income.

The home of Maria Maile, a programme participant from Khayelitsha in Cape Town. (Supplied)

Typical SA host

The typical host on Airbnb in SA shares their home for 16 days a year and earns an additional R28 000 a year. Half of the hosts in SA use the income from hosting on Airbnb to help afford to stay in their homes.

In the view of Velma Corcoran, Airbnb's country manager for SA, the programme is empowering people and communities that have not previously benefited from tourism.

"Through the Airbnb platform, people can finally gain access to the tourism industry, earn additional income and showcase the best of their community to guests from around the world,” explained Corcoran.

Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde, said inclusive tourism expands access to the tourism sector, which employs over 200 000 people in the province.

"It is our goal to make sure that more residents are able to benefit from this growing sector. Platforms like Airbnb are enabling more people to participate in the tourism industry to earn additional income and, in turn, help support themselves, their families and their communities. The shared tourism economy also lets tourists learn and understand more about our people and our cultures,” he said.

A guestroom in the home of Maria Maile, a programme participant from Khayelitsha. (Supplied)

Maria Maile, a programme participant and host on Airbnb from Khayelitsha in Cape Town, said before the training, she didn't know many of the other women, who are now hosts on Airbnb.

"We were all interested, open-minded and loving. We've now formed our own community. We hold meetings once a week and decided to start a fund so we can travel to other group members if they need help. Our group is about helping each other and finding ways to motivate others from different communities," she said.

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