Ministry, Airbnb partner to revive SA tourism

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 05 Sept 2023
It is hoped the partnership will help build a more inclusive and sustainable tourism economy.
It is hoped the partnership will help build a more inclusive and sustainable tourism economy.

The Department of Tourism has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with accommodation-sharing platform Airbnb South Africa.

According to a statement, the agreement will see the organisations work closely to advance tourism services aimed at growing SA’s tourism sector and creating more jobs.

The signing of the MOU is in line with the aims of the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (TSRP), which is a key part of the country’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, it says.

The global aviation industry was among the worst hit by COVID-19 lockdowns, with the travel and tourism sectors reporting considerable losses, as a result of closed borders and travel restrictions.

“As government, if we want to significantly grow tourism and its contribution to the economy and job creation, collaboration with the private sector is vital,” said tourism minister Patricia de Lille, speaking during a recent signing ceremony.

“We are delighted to be the first African Ministry of Tourism to sign a collaborative MOU with a successful global company such as Airbnb.”

The TSRP was adopted by Cabinet in March 2021, to facilitate the recovery of the sector to preserve jobs and livelihoods, create new job opportunities, match demand and supply, and strengthen transformation.

Airbnb will collaborate with the Ministry of Tourism through a national registration system for short-term rentals, the sharing of information on international best practice regarding short-term rentals, the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy for skills development, exchange of tourism insights through the online city portal, and organising the Airbnb Africa Travel Summit taking place next month.

The summit will bring together influencers, innovators and change-makers, to discuss critical topics, solutions and firm commitments to SA’s tourism industry.

The minister explained that by leveraging Airbnb's global reach and understanding of the market, the collaboration seeks to create a positive impact on local communities, travellers and the tourism industry as a whole.

As part of the MOU, the parties will have regular engagements to evaluate opportunities for strategic collaboration on driving inclusive tourism and ensuring fair and proportionate regulation of short-term rentals.

“The primary goal of this collaboration is to develop a relationship between the ministry and Airbnb to harness and drive tourism domestically and internationally.

“As shared in the department’s green paper, insufficient information is available about the unregulated short-term rental subsector, and this hampers informed policy decision-making. Access to the Airbnb data can only assist in informing better decisions,” De Lille added.

Velma Corcoran, regional lead: Middle East Africa at Airbnb, said the firm looks forward to working with the Department of Tourism to help build a more inclusive and sustainable tourism economy in South Africa.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the department to develop a clear, proportionate national framework for the regulation of short-term rentals, and see huge power in public and private sector collaborations.

“We also know from our work with the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy, that together, we can make a tangible difference and enable more people, in more places, to benefit from tourism,” said Corcoran.