Following reports on a meeting between Tourism minister Derek Hanekom and Airbnb relating to the Tourism Amendment Bill, the accommodation booking platform has released its statement clarifying its position and what was proposed behind closed doors.
The department said it had met with Airbnb “in the context of the current call for public comment on the Tourism Amendment Bill, published on April 15″ and added that ,”The Tourism Amended Draft Bill aims, among others, to address the regulatory vacuum on short-term rentals by defining short-term home rentals as “the renting or leasing on a temporary basis, for reward, of a dwelling or a part thereof, to a visitor.”
“It also seeks to enable the minister of tourism to determine thresholds regarding short-term home rentals, through a notice in the Government Gazette, according to the department,” the statement added.
Airbnb has now responded saying, “Airbnb is delighted to have had the chance to engage with the National Department of Tourism (NDT) about the proposed amendments to the Tourism Act, and is encouraged to see the recognition of the benefits that hosting brings to the local community and economy.”
Airbnb has emphasised that in its experience in order for SA to grow its tourism sector the country needs to offer as wide a variety of accommodation options and our experiences as possible and that Airbnb has a place within that system.
“Hosts on Airbnb have already contributed significantly to the South African economy – welcoming people into their homes and creating exciting experiences and tours, showing to visitors the true and varied face of the country. From June 1, 2017 through May 31, 2018 it has been estimated that host and guest activity on Airbnb generated an estimated R8.7 billion in economic impact in South Africa and this corresponds to a total of over 22,000 jobs supported across the broader South Africa economy,” explains Velma Corcoran, Airbnb Country Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Corcoran added that Airbnb supports fair and proportional rules that are evidence-based, benefit local people, and distinguish between professional and non-professional activity taking into account local conditions.
“For example, rules based on the level of activity as opposed to the platform where the accommodation is listed with a clear distinction between traditional hospitality providers and occasional home sharers. Similarly, any additional requirements for tour guides should not unfairly discriminate against entrepreneurial citizens from different walks of life.” she said.
“Hosts on Airbnb are incredibly proud of the offering that they bring to the tourism sector, and Airbnb wants to continue to support them as they make their voices heard in the ongoing participatory process. Airbnb is committed to facilitating a dialogue between them, the Ministry and relevant Authorities as their voices are valuable to the process. Airbnb will continue to engage through all processes to ensure that these distinctions and clarifications are clear,” Corcoran concluded.