Business Day

Airbnb pushes training plan to empower locals

- Bekezela Phakathi Parliament­ary Writer phakathib@businessli­

Airbnb, the California­n-based firm that provides an online service to rent out rooms or properties, is pushing its programme aimed at empowering locals through home sharing training.

It was developed in collaborat­ion with Open Africa, the South African College for Tourism and the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative.

Airbnb, which was launched in SA in July 2015, has been looking to maintain its rapid growth in Africa.

Earlier in 2017, Airbnb CE Brian Chesky told Reuters that the company expected to double African customer numbers in the year, to 1.5-million.

The home-sharing training programme was likely to boost the company’s footprint in SA and the rest of the continent. The programme consists of 10 modules and focuses on everything from exploring how to list a home on Airbnb to managing online payments and creating a compelling guest experience.

Since its launch, 15 local residents — mostly women — from townships across the Western Cape have participat­ed.

The programme is open to everyone, including people who do not own their own homes, thanks to Airbnb’s co-hosting feature, which allows hosts to add co-hosts to their account, such as family members or trusted friends to help with some of the hosting responsibi­lities. They could help with as much or as little as was needed and could then split the Airbnb income, the company said.

Velma Corcoran, country manager SA at Airbnb, said: “Airbnb is empowering people and communitie­s that have not previously benefited from tourism. Through the Airbnb platform, people can finally gain access to the tourism industry, earn additional income and showcase the best of their community to guests from around the world.”

The typical host on Airbnb in SA shares their home for 16 days a year and earns an additional R28,000 a year.

Half of the hosts in SA used the income from hosting on Airbnb to help them afford to stay in their homes, the company said.

Alan Winde, Western Cape economic opportunit­ies MEC, said it was the provincial government’s goal to make sure that more residents were able to benefit from the growing tourism sector.

“Inclusive tourism expands access to the tourism sector, which employs over 200,000 people in the Western Cape,” he said.

“Platforms like Airbnb are enabling more people to participat­e in the tourism industry to earn additional income and, in turn, help support themselves, their families and their communitie­s,” Winde said.

“The shared tourism economy also lets tourists learn and understand more about our people and our cultures,” said the MEC.

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