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World Tourism Day: Airbnb Launches Pilot Programme That Empowers Underprivileged Locals


Airbnb has successfully launched an SA programme to socially empower locals. It has already trained 15 new hosts in townships across the Western Cape.

To celebrate World Tourism Day, Airbnb announced the success of their pilot programme that focuses on training people in underprivileged areas. The programme was created to uplift and socially empower locals by providing home share training.

The programme was developed in collaboration with Open Africa, the South African College of Tourism and the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi). It has a focus of 10 modules that teach hosts how to list their home on Airbnb, to managing online payments and create a compelling guest experience.

The pilot programme consisted of 15 locals, most of whom were women, from townships across the Western Cape. It’s Airbnb’s vision to spread the benefits of tourism, previously kept in the hands of a few, to the many. The programme is officially open to anyone.

The typical host on Airbnb in South Africa shares their home for 16 days a year and earns an additional 28,000 ZAR a year. Half of the hosts in South Africa use the income from hosting on Airbnb to help afford to stay in their homes.

This is an entirely new source of income for those in up and coming communities and townships. Focusing on tourism is a brilliant thing, it creates jobs and boosts the local economy.

“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.” – Velma Corcoran, Country Manager South Africa at Airbnb

Not only are Airbnb on board with the changes that are coming, but the local government believes this will be a great benefit as well.

“Inclusive tourism expands access to the tourism sector, which employs over 200 000 people in the Western Cape. It is our goal to make sure that more residents are able to benefit from this growing sector.”

“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. The shared tourism economy also lets tourists learn and understand more about our people and our cultures.” – Alan Winde, the Minister of Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape Government

Maria Maile, a programme participant and host on Airbnb from Khayelitsha, gained knowledge about hospitality and technology. She even managed to build relationships with other participants in the programme. Maria feels these relationships will be beneficial to her as she grows her own business.

“We were all interested, open-minded and loving. We’ve now formed our own community. We hold meetings once a week and decided to start a fund so we can travel to other group members if they need help. Our group is about helping each other and finding ways to motivate others from different communities.”

Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s Head of Public Policy and Public Affairs, will be in South Africa in October to share more on how Airbnb is boosting African economies and how everyone can continue working together to spread tourism benefits to local families and their communities.

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