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Airbnb aims to promote sustainable, inclusive tourism in Africa
February 24, 2018, 3:49 pm

Airbnb, the international shared economy start-up, that has silently built quite a presence in Africa, released a progress report on its performance in the continent. The report detailed growth of the online room sharing platform so far and also set itself some ambitious targets for working with townships and rural communities in the coming years.

According to Airbnb's Regional Marketing Consultant (Southern Africa), Velma Corcoran, Airbnb Community in Africa has 100,000 listings, with South Africa (44,000 listings) and Morocco (20,000) being the top two countries in listings. The next highest listing comes from Kenya with 6,000 on the list.

The report revealed that the typical Africa host on Airbnb earns $1,500 yearly and the typical listing on Airbnb is shared for 18 nights per year. The average age of hosts in Africa is 43 and the host community is evenly split at 51 percent women and 49 percent men.

"In Nigeria, one of the newest Airbnb communities in Africa with 730 active listings, the typical host earns $1,000 and the typical listing on Airbnb is shared for 13 nights per year," said Ms. Corcoran. She added, "In some markets, the key to building trust is the quality of the listings and the quality in Lagos and Nairobi has improved considerably over the past year. The other thing that builds trust is the review system which is relevant across the platform."

Airbnb's pitch is that 97 percent of what is charged for accommodation stays with the listing owner and 42 percent of guest-spend is in the local neighborhood. The report also showed that over the last five years, there have been over 2 million visitors and hosts have earned $139 million.

Airbnb Africa has launched a $1 million initiative spread over the next two years to develop tourism in Africa. The program, which currently includes supporting training in hospitality and technology for residents from townships across Western Cape in South Africa, aims to expand to other townships in South Africa as well as scale it to other African countries in 2019.

"We worked with people in the townships or rural communities with a room or small B & B business. We gave them the skills to host and the tech skills to use the platform to participate in the sharing economy," said Ms. Corcoran, adding, “We want to see the democratization of travel."

The focus in Africa is going to be on inclusive tourism. “That's the only real way to grow sustainably. We're focused on long-term growth and I like to think of South Africa as an incubator for other African markets," she added.

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