Off­beat tourism trend

Beau­fort West, Ceres emerge as hot des­ti­na­tions in prov­ince

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - BUSINESS - JOSEPH BOOY­SEN

MOVE over Cape Town… the pop­u­lar­ity of Beau­fort West and Ceres soared as tourist des­ti­na­tions last year as Airbnb in­jected R5 bil­lion into the West­ern Cape econ­omy.

Airbnb’s lat­est sur­vey, re­leased this week, re­ported a 213% in­crease in vis­i­tors to Beau­fort West last year, and a 208% growth in guests stay­ing in Ceres. The US-based com­pany, which op­er­ates an on­line hol­i­day-rental ser­vice, said the boost for Ceres and Beau­fort West came amid de­mand for des­ti­na­tions out­side of the typ­i­cal tourist hot spots.

The re­port also said Airbnb had gen­er­ated R5bn in the prov­ince last year, when more than half a mil­lion vis­i­tors spent about R1 715 a day, boost­ing com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses.

There was an 86% growth in in­ter­na­tional ar­rivals last year com­pared to 2016, the re­port said, and al­most 15 000 hosts had wel­comed more than 540 000 guests from around the world.

This marked an im­prove­ment on 290 000 Airbnb vis­i­tors to Cape Town in 2016, which re­sulted in an es­ti­mated eco­nomic boost of R2.4bn for the city, the re­port said.

Velma Cor­co­ran, Airbnb coun­try man­ager for South Africa, said a record num­ber of guests vis­ited the West­ern Cape through Airbnb last year.

“We’re de­lighted to help spread the ben­e­fits of tourism be­yond the typ­i­cal tourist hot spots to lesser towns and neigh­bour­hoods,” said Cor­co­ran.

“Whether it’s stay­ing in Sal­danha ( Bay), Swellen­dam or Stel­len­bosch, hosts pro­vide un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ences for guests to live like a lo­cal.”

The re­port said more than a third of vis­i­tors to the re­gion were from South Africa, high­light­ing the in­crease in lo­cals opt­ing for a “stay­ca­tion” to en­joy places on their doorstep, while US vis­i­tors were se­cond- high­est, with 54 600 ar­rivals, fol­lowed by the UK with 54 400.

The re­lease of the data this week forms part of Airbnb’s Com­mu­nity Com­pact, a se­ries of com­mit­ments made with cities around the world, in­clud­ing shar­ing data on the im­pacts of home-shar­ing to help build an open com­mu­nity.

Airbnb said it had com­mit­ted to in­vest $1 mil­lion (R12m) in com­mu­nity- led tourism projects in Africa, in­clud­ing in Cape Town, over three years.

Cape Town Mayor Pa­tri­cia de Lille said at the time of the agree­ment that the city was cre­at­ing an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for in­clu­sive growth and job cre­ation.

“The shared econ­omy has the abil­ity to wel­come more Capeto­ni­ans into the tourism sec­tor in line with our ef­forts to­wards build­ing an in­clu­sive city as we wel­come more Airbnb guests. Cape Town is a glob­ally com­pet­i­tive des­ti­na­tion and we are cre­at­ing the space for all en­trepreneurs to ex­cel,” said De Lille.

PIC­TURE: DAVID RITCHIE/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY (ANA)

Cape Town is los­ing out as tourists flock to the hin­ter­land.

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