Airbnb empowers emerging tourism entrepreneurs

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 26 May 2023

Airbnb has provided financial support of R2 million to the University of Johannesburg’s (UJ’s) School of Tourism and Hospitality (STH), to assist emerging tourism entrepreneurs from previously-disadvantaged backgrounds to pursue their studies.

According to a statement, the sponsorship will support five first year students from 2024, covering study expenses, tuition fees and the cost of on-campus accommodation for the duration of a four-year undergraduate degree (Honours included).

The sponsorship builds on Airbnb’s partnership with the UJ, to bring the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy to at least 1 000 students over three years. It also forms part of Airbnb’s 2021 three-year commitment to SA to address barriers to becoming a tourism entrepreneur and help build a more inclusive tourism economy.

“The next generation of tourism entrepreneurs can come from anywhere, but systemic barriers mean that many may never have the chance to get started,” notes Velma Corcoran, regional lead for Middle East and Africa at Airbnb.

“Together with the University of Johannesburg, we hope the Airbnb Academy Scholarship can help and inspire young South Africans to pursue further studies in tourism and hospitality, and empower them to change the face of the tourism industry.”

Airbnb says since inception in 2007, the platform has grown to list over four million hosts globally, who have welcomed 1.4 billion guest arrivals in almost every country across the globe.

Airbnb recently proposed a series of measures to help build a more inclusive tourism economy, and empower government and the private sector to work together to address important issues, such as systemic barriers to entry and inequality in the sector.

“The School of Tourism and Hospitality is appreciative of the support from industry partners to grow the next generation of leaders and talent for the tourism sector,” says professor Diane Abrahams, director of School of Tourism and Hospitality at UJ.

“The scholarship will go a long way in assisting our students to complete their studies and we’re looking forward to working with Airbnb to achieve this.”

In a local survey, half of hosts across SA said the money they earn from hosting helps cover the rising cost of living, and over a third said the additional income helps them make ends meet.

Airbnb says it recognises the historic challenges in SA and the need for a more inclusive economy, and will continue to invest in campaigns and programmes via the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy to build a more inclusive tourism economy.

The scholarship will be open to UJ students registering in 2024. Applications open in August. For more details, e-mail the School of Tourism and Hospitality director’s office: