Offbeat tourism trend
Beaufort West, Ceres emerge as hot destinations in province
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.
Cape Town is losing out as tourists flock to the hinterland.