Airbnb launches #GetBehindTheMask campaign

South Africa: Airbnb has launched its #GetBehindTheMask campaign in South Africa, which is being led by hosts to support the communities in the country that have been most hard hit by the Covid-19 virus.

The government-backed campaign is in partnership with Western Cape Government’s Maskathon and Afriks Tikkun, taking the lead from Airbnb’s Online Experiences platform.

It will get underway with an online activity which educates South Africans how to create and produce face masks, which play a crucial role in preventing the spread of the coronavirus.

As only some of South Africa’s population is able to access or afford protective face masks, Airbnb CEO and co-founder, Brian Chesky, decided now was the right time to provide his assistance.

He said: “We want to support this commitment from hosts on Airbnb and champion the tourism entrepreneurs who help vulnerable communities and who will help lead South Africa through this crisis.”

More Experiences will be added in the coming weeks and Airbnb has pledged to provide free coupons to the first 100 people who book as part of the new campaign.

In the case of mask making, patterns and instructions will also be made online for people around the world to create their own.

The concept of making DIY face masks was inspired by hosts who participated in the pilot Airbnb Africa Academy Programme, which aims to equip emerging entrepreneurs in under-resourced communities in Africa with the tools and skills to succeed with the global booking platform. Those hosts also wanted to support the most vulnerable citizens in society despite the lockdown.

Western Cape Premier Alan Winde said: “We welcome Airbnb’s #GetBehindTheMask initiative to make more masks available to communities in the province, and their support of the Maskathon campaign. The global Covid-19 pandemic has seen a major outpouring of kindness and support, and we thank all of those, like Airbnb, who are working to help us flatten the curve and mitigate the impact of Covid-19 in the Western Cape.”

In addition, a relief fund has been set up to help entrepreneurs in the South African travel sector who participated in the Airbnb Africa Academy Programme.

Airbnb will contact eligible participants and invite them to apply for a relief grant of up to 25,000 South African Rand which, if successful, will be awarded within four weeks. Since the launch of the Academy in 2017, 220 people have been trained, 70 per cent of whom are female.

Afrika Tikkun CEO Alef Meulenbergi said: “The Airbnb Africa Academy is a programme that very much aligns with what we stand for and it’s fantastic to see how Airbnb is committed to supporting these hosts who have little to no income right now.”