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South Africa registration system to be established via Airbnb MoU

South Africa: Airbnb and South Africa’s Department of Tourism have signed a memorandum of understanding [MoU] to initiate a series of collaboration efforts between the two entities, including the establishment of a national short-term rental registration system.

Described by Patricia de Lille, Minister of Tourism for South Africa, as a “first of its kind” agreement in the continent, the partnership is aimed at promoting South Africa’s tourism sector, including providing greater “transparency” across its short-term rental market.

Under the MoU, a digital portal is set to be launched that will enable the sharing of data and insights into the sector between the South African government and national tourism organisations, as is becoming more commonplace in Europe and other destinations around the world.

In addition, the Department of Tourism is launching a new skills development programme alongside Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy, building on the creation of a number of academies in the country last year that teach entrepreneurship skills, and providing greater access to tourism opportunities for more disadvantaged communities in South Africa.

De Lille said via a press release: “As government, if we want to significantly grow tourism and its contribution to the economy and job creation, collaboration with the private sector is vital. We are delighted to be the first African Ministry of Tourism to sign a collaborative MoU with a successful global company such as Airbnb.

“By leveraging Airbnb’s global reach and understanding of the market, this collaboration seeks to create a positive impact on local communities, travellers, and the tourism industry as a whole. The primary goal of this collaboration is to develop a relationship between the Ministry, its department and entity, and Airbnb, to harness and drive tourism domestically and internationally,” she added.

Velma Corcoran, regional lead Middle East Africa at Airbnb, said: “We look forward to working together with the Department of Tourism to help build a more inclusive and sustainable tourism economy in South Africa. The Airbnb platform can help anyone, anywhere, to become a tourism entrepreneur, and we hope to continue to break down systemic barriers to entry and enable more South Africans to participate in the sector.”

Airbnb is due to host more than 200 policymakers, tourism experts, innovators and change makers at the Airbnb Africa Travel Summit at Victoria Yards in Johannesburg on 24 October. The Summit is setting out to explore, innovate and collaborate on building an inclusive and sustainable tourism industry across the entire continent, particularly in the wake of lockdowns initiated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Airbnb sees Africa as a key target market to facilitate working and living from anywhere, particularly digital nomads seeking long-term stays, after Cape Town was named as a trending destination for long-term stays on the platform in 2022.