Airbnb helping Capetonians open up more - Wesgro

2016-06-01 07:30 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - Airbnb has grown the tourism pie in Cape Town, attracting guests who might otherwise not have come and encouraging them to stay longer - this is according to new data released by the company.

Tim Harris, CEO at Wesgro, the tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, speaking at a performance update on Airbnb in SA, says the business model is encouraging the idea of openness, hospitality and service across the city of Cape Town, which has an reputation for being rather “insular and closed off".

Harris admitted that the business partnership which sees some 7 500 Airbnb hosts in the country earn an estimated R28 000 additional annual income just by occasionally sharing space in their home - was an important one in positioning Cape Town not only as a powerful tourism brand but also as a technological leader on the continent, all the while encouraging the idea of tourism ambassadors, for which the Airbnb is well-designed to do.  

While Cape Town is a firm holiday favourite, taking top honours on the 2015/2016 Telegraph Travel Awards for the fourth year running, it recently slipped 10 places in ten places in the TripAdvisor 2016 Travellers Choice Awards, slotting in at position 20 overall. 

Trends show that while the rand is driving value for the inbound tourism market, Harris says the highly innovative space of Airbnb is helping to capitalise on this, with the combination of e-commerce and tourism perfectly positioned for how Wesgrow is planning to promote the Cape economy. 

Direct air access to Cape Town has also formed a major focus for shaping the Cape tourism economy as indicated by a Wesgrow initiative Cape Town Air Access initiative, in partnership between government, Airports Company South Africa and the airline industries. Lufthansa German Airlines announced on Friday, 27 May that it will add seasonal direct flights between Frankfurt and Cape Town as of 2 December 2016.

Harris also says, the spread of the accommodation offering beyond the tourist-centric spots not only means improved economic opportunities for that specific regions but it also has social benefits, with the idea of sharing space within in a home "helping Capetonians in particular to open-up more as hosts". 

According to Nicola D’Elia, General Manager for Airbnb Africa and Middle East the secure, online accommodation portal is designed to encourage greater host to guest interaction, "cutting out any middle-man experience" and upping the personalised approach. This in turn allows guest to really tap into a local way of life within the destination they have chosen to visit.

Regional marketing consultant for Airbnb, Velma Corcoran echoed this sentiment, highlighting that Airbnb listings allow for a more authentic travel experience that unlocks a personalised stay as guests receive top recommendations for the neighbourhoods they choose to stay in that might otherwise not have been considered.  

Harris also says, "It’s great to see that outside Cape Town, Knysna is the second most popular town with the Airbnb community. This shows how Airbnb hosts are helping to drive visitors across the province, allowing them to experience more of the Western Cape with their local hosts."  

INFOGRAPHIC: 2015 data snapshot of SA's Airbnb community

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