Airbnb supports 'clear and progressive rules' for SA home sharing industry

The international giant responded to the potential impact that the proposed Tourism Amendment Bill could have on the shared economy in the short-term accommodation and tourism sector, of which the business model of Airbnb is an example.

Fin24 reported earlier that the public has 60 days from Monday April 15 to submit comments on the bill.

"We are having productive discussions with the government - based on our experience working with more than 500 governments around the world - on measures to help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay their fair share of tax," an Airbnb spokesperson told Fin24 on Tuesday.

'Healthy, sustainable'

"Airbnb is growing because it reflects the way people live, work and travel today and, while travel on our platforms accounts for less than 1 in 8 visitors to South Africa, studies show those guests boosted the economy by about R8.7bn and helped create 22 000 jobs last year alone."

The spokesperson describes Airbnb as a "healthy and sustainable tourism model". Hosts retain up to 97% of the price they charge to rent out their accommodation space.

"This is transforming local economies and makes Airbnb fundamentally different to businesses that take money out of the places they do business in," in the view of the Airbnb spokesperson.

Department of Tourism chief director of communications Blessing Manale told Fin24 on Monday that the idea behind the bill was certainly not to "kill" Airbnb-type accommodation, but to empower the minister of tourism to decide what should be the biggest priorities.

These priorities could include the setting of certain thresholds like zoning, allowing Airbnb-type establishments to operate only in certain areas, setting price limits and limits on the number of nights guests can stay.

The department wants to hear from both sides of the industry - those operating Airbnb-type accommodations and those who feel it is hampering the more "formal" tourism accommodation sector.

The department is in the process of holding seminars and workshops to inform people about the bill and its proposed changes for the shared-economy.

* More information on how to submit comments on the bill can be obtained from Mmaditonki Setwaba on msetwaba@tourism.gov.za or 012 444 6312.

** The bill can be accessed here.

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