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Airbnb meets with tourism minister on proposed regulation

May 18 2019 09:15
Carin Smith

Airbnb and other game changing shared-economy innovations enabled many smaller industry players to flourish and open new markets for destinations by offering affordable holidays, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom has said.

He was commenting after a meeting with Airbnb representatives to discuss policy issues such as the regulation of short-term home rentals with the proposed Tourism Amendment Bill, published on April 15.

The bill aims, among other things, to address the regulatory vacuum and enable the minister of tourism to determine thresholds regarding short-term home rentals. The public currently has an opportunity to make submissions to the department about the bill.

Victor Tharage, director-general of the department, urged stakeholders to submit their comments to enable the department to strengthen the bill in order to serve the interests of inclusive tourism growth in SA.
 
Airbnb shared information with the department on trends and approaches adopted in various countries, states and cities where it operates.

It was acknowledged at the meeting that there was a need for a proactive legislative and policy response underscored by sound destination management and interventions aimed at enhancing the visitor experience.

Hanekom welcomed the cooperation from Airbnb and said he appreciated its commitment to contribute constructively to the legislative review processes, in support of SA's tourism development growth objectives.

Velma Corcoran, Airbnb country manager for sub-Saharan Africa, said in a statement it was encouraged to see the recognition of the benefits that hosting brings to the local community and economy.

"For SA to reach its ambitious tourism goals that are key to economic development and job creation for all citizens, it is vital that guests to the country have a wide selection of accommodation and experience options - including home sharing which allows guests to stay in different areas as well as with local hosts who are ambassadors to their country," commented Corcoran.

From June 1, 2017 through May 31, 2018 it was estimated that host and guest activity on Airbnb generated an estimated R8.7bn in economic impact in SA, corresponding to a total of over 22 000 jobs supported across the broader SA economy, according to the statement.

Corcoran said 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, it wants rules based on the level of activity - as opposed to the platform where the accommodation is listed - to make 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," said Corcoran.

* More information on how to submit comments on the bill can be obtained from Mmaditonki Setwaba on msetwaba@tourism.gov.za or 012 444 6312.

** The bill can be accessed here.

airbnb  |  derek hanekom  |  travel and leisure  |  tourism
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