“We don’t want to overregulate and shut down Airbnb. No such thing,” says Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom at a media briefing at Indaba, Day 2.
On the contrary, Hanekom says that Airbnb supports the new provisions made in the Amendment Bill to Tourism Act, which will empower the Minister to place thresholds on the amount of bookable nights allowed in a local Airbnb or other short-term home rentals.
"We don’t want a host of municipalities applying their own regulations for Airbnb – we don’t want 50 different regulations for Airbnb in SA," says Hanekom.
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There has been a lot of criticism from the public leading up to the Bill amendment, says Hanekom, accusing the Department of Tourism of pandering to the needs of big hotels. But the complaints against short stay homes weren't coming from the big hotels. Small businesses were those most concerned about unfair competition. (The bill can be accessed here).
However, these thresholds and regulations will only apply to so-called 'non-businesses', says the Department of Tourism. Guesthouses, hotels and bed and breakfasts won't answer to these regulations as they operate as full-time accommodation business units.
With an expected tourist growth in arrivals to 21 million by 2030, accommodation with appropriate regulation is always welcome.
Short home rentals like Airbnb provides local people the opportunity to earn an extra income, plus it provides international travellers with more choice, a unique experience of staying in a local person's home and the ability to move and book stays with ease when travelling within South Africa.
Hanekom notes, "We welcome these new developments. But we have to protect the consumer. And we have to prevent a negative impact on the local community." These regulations are thus put in place to protect the consumer as well as those who live within the community where the consumer rents the Airbnb - while still upholding the rights of accommodation businesses to operate as normal.
*The public has been given 60 days, since Monday April 15 to submit comments on the Tourism Amendment Bill, which will regulate short-term accommodation in the so-called shared economy. More information on how to submit comments on the bill can be obtained from Mmaditonki Setwaba on email@example.com or 012 444 6312.
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**Africa's Travel and Tourism Indaba is taking place at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban from 2 - 4 May. As Africa's leading trade show, it sees some 7 000 delegates attending from 80 different countries.
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