Airbnb outlines policy to kickstart tourism in SA
Cape Town, South Africa [Credit: Patrick Ward on Unsplash]

Airbnb outlines policy to kickstart SA tourism

South Africa: Airbnb has asked for support from government policymakers for a short-term rental registration system in South Africa. 

The online home rental company, Airbnb, is planning on introducing rules to help rebuild South Africa after the pandemic. The company said that the new policy will focus on: breaking down barriers to become a tourism entrepreneur; growing tourism outside of traditional hotspots; national regulation – with clear and sensible rules that encourage and enable entrepreneurship; working in partnership with the government; and prioritising safe travel. 

Airbnb has signed more than 1,000 regulatory and tax agreements globally, many of these being built around simple registration systems. The company has worked with South African Revenue Service (SARS) to build a responsible hosting page, as well as a tax guide for hosts in partnership with local firm, Tax Tim. 

In a statement, Airbnb said: “The support for a registration system, and a clear, legal and industry-wide definition of short-term rentals, formed part of a five-point plan to re-boost tourism in the wake of the pandemic. With a clear definition of short-term rentals, and the role they play in South Africa’s tourism industry in place, Airbnb is committed to supporting a simple, online national registration system, giving governments data to enforce proportionate regulation, offering transparency to communities, and empowering local tourism entrepreneurs to grow their businesses.”

Airbnb continued: “With people increasingly embracing local, affordable travel to connect with family, Airbnb has already partnered with tourism organisations including Wesgro, Western Cape Government, Tourism Kwa-Zulu Natal, and South African Tourism to promote new ways for South Africans to explore their country, including remote working holidays. These partnerships follow Airbnb’s commitment to inclusive tourism, and the introduction of the Airbnb Academy, which works with organisations, including Africa Ignite and Tourism KwaZulu Natal, to encourage local people in townships and rural communities to become tourism entrepreneurs.”

Velma Corcoran, Airbnb’s regional lead for the Middle East and Africa, said: “We need to drive a genuinely inclusive tourism recovery by breaking down the barriers to becoming a tourism entrepreneur. We know from the hundreds of agreements Airbnb has signed with authorities around the world and the wide-ranging system of rules that have been introduced, that good rules not only benefit hosts who list their properties on Airbnb, but also their communities.” 

Corcoran added: “That’s why we have always led calls for fair rules and today, are setting out our support for the introduction of a nationwide registration system that will enable entrepreneurship and support a diverse tourism economy.”

In 2019, the South African government published the Tourism Amendment Bill which stated that short-term home rentals will be legislated under the Tourism Act. Under the bill, the Minister for Tourism will have the power to determine what constitutes “short-term home rentals” and what thresholds must be met.

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