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African Airbnb hosts made $139m this year

Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba and Airbnb head of policy Chris Lehane.

Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba and Airbnb head of policy Chris Lehane.

In the last year, home owners in Africa who listed parts of their house or the whole dwelling on the app-based hospitality booking service Airbnb have made nearly $140 million (R1.8 billion) in profit.

A report on the global economic impact of Airbnb was released by the global tech company this week. It shows Africa now has over 100 000 listings across the continent, concentrated mainly in SA, Morocco, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria.

The company, founded in San Francisco in 2008, is a community marketplace for people to list, discover and book unique accommodation around the world using the Web or a mobile phone. The accommodation ranges from a shared arrangement, to a room within a house (while hosts are present), to renting of a whole house (with no hosts present).

It has been available in SA, the first country in Africa, since 2010. In that time, there has been $86 million (R1.1 billion) income earned by local households, $161 million (R2.2 billion) estimated guest spending and $247 million (R3.3 billion) estimated economic activity generated by guests and hosts.

The typical host in Africa earns $1 500 (R20 000) by sharing their home for 18 nights a year.

The average age of hosts in Africa is 43 and the host community is evenly split at 51% women and 49% men.

In SA, the platform counts 43 400 active listings and the typical host earns $1 900 (R25 500) yearly sharing their home for 19 nights per year.

There have been over two million Airbnb guest arrivals in Africa within the past five years; 29% of these visitors were from Africa originally. Over the last year, there has been an increase in millennials travelling to Africa. They now account for 56% of all visitors.

The map of Africa with dots representing all the Airbnb listings on the continent.

The map of Africa with dots representing all the Airbnb listings on the continent.

The report was done to highlight the economic and social benefits of travel using Airbnb for local families and their communities.

"As tourism in emerging destinations is increasing, our platform helps to ensure this growth is inclusive and community-led by benefiting regular people, communities and local businesses that have sometimes never seen tourism dollars before," said Chris Lehane, global head of public policy and public affairs for Airbnb, speaking at an event in Johannesburg yesterday.

"Airbnb can be a major engine for economic empowerment throughout Africa. We look forward to working with communities across the continent to harness their innovative spirit and technology on our people-to-people platform to help spread tourism benefits across Africa."

Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba was also in attendance. He said in his executive capacity he will be committing to making the city a cleaner and safer place for tourists to visit. He will do this by instating 1 500 new police officers on the ground and running community-led campaigns to clean the city once a month.

Airbnb and the city also announced Airbnb will invest $1 million in community-led tourism projects in Africa through 2020.

The growth of Airbnb listings in Africa over the last five years.

The growth of Airbnb listings in Africa over the last five years.


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