Airbnb wants national short-term rental register

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Global online lodging platform Airbnb wants nationwide regulation of short-term rentals.
Global online lodging platform Airbnb wants nationwide regulation of short-term rentals.
Yuriko Nakao/Getty Image
  • Global online lodging platform Airbnb wants nationwide regulation of short-term rentals.
  • This is part of a drive it is on to help boost tourism locally.
  • It has partnered with both businesses and government bodies, and has written a five-point plan outlining its rationale for regulation.

AirBnb has issued a call government and the tourism industry for nationwide regulation of short-term rentals, saying this could help build economic growth as the country recovers from Covid-19.

This is not the first attempt by Airbnb to give the sector a boost. In September, it launched its City Portal tool in SA, giving local government access to travel insights data.

Now, the global online lodging platform believes there is a need for "clear and sensible rules" in short-term rentals and that this will help boost tourism.

The idea is that a simple, smart online national registration system would enable hosts to share their registration number on the Airbnb platform for full transparency to all stakeholders.

This would give government data to help enforce regulation, give communities access to information they need, and empower entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.  

Similar approaches are already being followed in cities like Amsterdam and San Francisco.

"Progressive rules will help rebuild South Africa following the pandemic and promote an inclusive and sustainable future for tourism," says Velma Corcoran, Airbnb's regional lead for the Middle East and Africa.

Airbnb says it has rolled out a number of partnerships already to help grow tourism businesses. It is also working alongside the SA Revenue Service and has built a dedicated tax guide for hosts in partnership with local virtual tax consultancy TaxTim.

It has also partnered with domestic worker booking service SweepSouth for cleaning services.

Working with local tourism

Locally, Airbnb is working with tourism organisations including Wesgro, the Western Cape Government, Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and South African Tourism to promote ways for South Africans to explore the country, including remote working holidays.

It says these partnerships are in line with its commitment to "inclusive tourism", which includes the establishment of Airbnb Academy – a learning centre that works with organisations including Africa Ignite and Tourism KwaZulu-Natal to encourage residents of townships and rural communities to become entrepreneurs.

"A global crisis such as the pandemic causes us all to consider new ways forward. So much has changed around us, but the power of travel and tourism to connect people and bring economic benefit to local communities will be undimmed. But harnessing its power in new ways - to support diversity, inclusion, empowerment and entrepreneurship - will take new approaches from everyone," says Corcoran.

Corcoran has laid out a rationale for the registration system in a letter to tourism policymakers and stakeholders in SA, outlining a five-point plan to roll it out.  

These are: breaking down barriers to becoming a tourism entrepreneur; growing tourism outside of traditional hotspots; national regulation; working in partnership with government and prioritising safe travel.

In 2020, nearly one in five Airbnb Homes guests (19%) used Airbnb to travel and work remotely, while 11% of Airbnb long-term stay bookers in 2021 reported living a nomadic lifestyle and 41% of consumers surveyed are interested in leaving a city to live in the country or someplace remote.

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