- Technology to empower communities through tourism;
- The role of the media in shaping Africa’s tourism narrative;
- The World Bank Group looking at flexible financing to help SMMEs;
- Tourism in times of crisis, with focus on sustainable tourism;
- The role of government in advancing tourism.
The keynote speaker was Chris Lehane, Head of Global Policy and Public Affairs at Airbnb, who presented a new report on how the Airbnb platform is helping to develop travel in Africa. In his address Lehane said: “There is a transformative power in travel that can create new economic opportunities, and drive what we call people-to-people connections. It’s what we call healthy travel, it is supporting belonging and at Airbnb our community model of healthy tourism is based on advancing the interests of all stakeholders.”
To this end, Lehane noted that eight in ten guests chose the Airbnb platform as a way of exploring a specific neighbourhood. Additionally, two-thirds of travellers use Airbnb because they believe the environmental footprint is smaller while the benefit to local economies is higher.
According to the report, Airbnb in South Africa has earned hosts $260 million and has supported 22 000 jobs. Additionally, of the 35 000 hosts in South Africa, 65% are women. With Airbnb’s new ‘Experiences’ function, hosts can offer guests a more in-depth understanding of their area. According to Airbnb, the average income for a South African hosting six Experiences a month is $14 000 a year. Additionally, one-third of all requests for South African Experiences fall into the Social Impact Experiences category, of which all the proceeds go directly to a non-profit organisation.
Lehane said: “Today’s report shows how Airbnb’s community model creates healthy tourism by benefiting the hosts who share their homes and passions, the guests who are seeking authentic cultural experiences, and the local residents whose cultures, experiences and economies are celebrated and supported.”
Sisa Ntshona, CEO of SA Tourism (a host partner for the summit) said: “Homestays are a new category for us to look at, and working more closely with Airbnb on this will certainly assist us in achieving our goals of attracting additional visitors.”