South African Passion for Local Travel is Central to Tourism Recovery

  • Airbnb has today announced new tourism partnerships with Wesgro and Tourism KwaZulu-Natal to aid local recovery by leveraging South African passion for domestic travel.
  • Airbnb also launched Go Near, a new initiative to support economic growth through local travel. 
  • In January and February domestic travel was already booming in South Africa, with over 80% of local trips on Airbnb booked by South Africans.

Airbnb is today announcing it will join forces with Tourism KwaZulu-Natal and Wesgro (Tourism, Trade and Investment agency in the Western Cape) to promote domestic travel as lockdown measures start to ease in South Africa. Airbnb is also sharing global data which reveals that South Africans were among the leading nationalities for domestic travel at the beginning of this year.

According to Airbnb data, domestic tourism has traditionally been strong in South Africa – the second country worldwide in terms of popularity at the beginning of the year. Over 80% of trips booked on Airbnb this January and February were booked by South Africans*. Additionally, in 2015, just under 40% of bookings by guests from South Africa were domestic but by 2019 that had risen to nearly 75% of bookings. Unlike other business models where revenue does not remain in communities, Airbnb directly benefits local communities, with hosts keeping 97% of their earnings.

Airbnb is uniquely positioned to support the country and help communities and businesses recover through domestic travel. We know that South Africans love to travel locally and it will be central to the recovery of tourism in the region. We are so pleased to be able to work with Wesgro and Tourism Kwaulu-Natal, to respond innovatively to the challenges we face and to drive domestic tourism and economic benefit for Cape Town, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Velma Corcoran, Country Manager for South Africa at Airbnb

Tapping into the demand for nearby trips, Airbnb is updating its platform to help guests rediscover the magic in their own backyards by making it easier to Go Near and book local travel. This includes updating the Airbnb website and app to highlight nearby getaways.

Airbnb, Wesgro and TKZN will collaborate in a number of unique ways to drive domestic tourism and support these destinations with their recovery efforts. The partnerships are based on three central pillars: sharing travel trends and data on how South Africans are planning to travel as lockdown measures begin to ease, leveraging the Airbnb platform to shine a spotlight on featured regions (connecting guests to new, nearby destinations) and sharing tools to help both TKZN and Wesgro tap into online and in-person Experiences on Airbnb.

We are delighted to continue our work with Airbnb. Now more than ever, we need to look at smart solutions to drive tourism throughout the province. Cape Town and the Western Cape remain superb destinations with unparalleled scenery and a vibrant local culture. We look forward to using this partnership to ensure a swift recovery and to shine a spotlight on everything this unique region has to offer.

Tim Harris, Wesgro CEO

Airbnb has been a catalyst for the growth of entrepreneurial tourism and this spirit will certainly help with our efforts to inspire travelers to consider the region for their next adventure. The Zulu Kingdom has such a distinct fusion of raw natural beauty and cultural diversity and we are proud to be in partnership with Airbnb: the opportunities presented by this collaboration are very exciting.

Phindile Makwakwa, acting CEO of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal CEO

The announcement closely follows Airbnb’s #GetBehindTheMask campaign, recently launched in partnership with the Western Cape Government’s Maskathon and Afrika Tikkun. The initiative kicked off with an Online Experience on how to create face masks, alongside a South African call to action – still ongoing – to donate 50,000 cloth face masks. In addition, a relief fund was set up to support tourism entrepreneurs who participated in the Airbnb Africa Academy and who have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

Destination marketing organizations looking to join forces with Airbnb through the partnership program can find more information on a new dedicated homepage that has been launched today. Airbnb will continue to follow guidance from local officials and encourage safe, responsible travel and work to ensure guests get the experience they’ve waited so long to enjoy.

As part of that work, Airbnb announced this April that it had engaged former US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy to help develop an industry standard-setting Enhanced Cleaning Protocol for hosts on Airbnb. This Protocol, which includes a step-by-step cleaning handbook designed for everyday hosts, is now available to hosts in the United States and will be available to hosts around the world in the weeks ahead.

*The share of domestic travel for stays between Jan 1 and Feb 28th, 2020.