Airbnb is hoping that President Cyril Ramaphosa will include the home-sharing service in level 3 regulations. Ramaphosa revealed on June 17 that sit-in restaurants, accredited hotels, cinemas, theatres, casinos, personal care services and non-contact sports including cricket, golf and tennis, will be opened. He said the return of hotels will not include Airbnb services.
Velma Corcoran, Airbnb’s Country Manager for Sub Saharan Africa, detailed the impact of not excluding Airbnb as an accommodation operator during level 3 lockdown.
She said the decision to exclude local hosts on Airbnb will have “far-reaching consequences”.
She said before the pandemic emerged, growth in travel and tourism had outpaced growth in the global economy for nine years straight. In 2019, the industry made up more than 10 percent of global GDP and created one in every four new jobs.
“President Ramaphosa’s statement last week that travel will reopen shortly would, therefore, have been welcome news to many hoteliers and travel businesses across South Africa.
“For the many everyday South Africans who host on Airbnb, who was singled out as being excluded from this announcement, have viewed the statement as a missed opportunity that leaves them confused and left behind,” she revealed.
Corcoran said that at other destinations, Airbnb was “at the front of the queue” of accommodation facilities for travellers due to its “lower risk”.
“Many hosts may find the decision to reopen hotels and hostels with their crowded public areas, ahead of private self-catering accommodation, hard to reconcile with public health considerations.
“Especially when elsewhere in the world, others have said that private accommodation, such as that provided on Airbnb, will be “at the front of the queue” when travel reopens to “safely house holidaymakers” due to its “lower risk. Others too will be disappointed to only hear reference to the reopening of “accredited and licensed accommodation” when local hosts on Airbnb – who bring benefits to their communities and the economy – have sought clear and fair legal recognition but have been overlooked in favour of corporate hotel chains, ” said Corcoran.
Corcoran further revealed that more than 2 million guests have travelled to South Africa using Airbnb. In 2018, a study by Genesis Analytics found that this generated an estimated R8.7 billion in economic impact -the equivalent of supporting more than 22,000 jobs.
“Airbnb and its community of hosts have worked more closely with governments during this pandemic than at any point in our history. Right here in South Africa, we are working with the Western Cape Government’s Maskathon and Afrika Tikkun to make and supply masks to communities in need – and 10,000 have already been delivered.
“With hosts playing such a valuable role in both the global crisis and supporting economic recovery, we believe it is right to ask the Presidency to reconsider their approach and to allow South African hosts to open their homes to help rebuild their livelihoods, communities and the economy, and we have already written to the president with this request, ” she added.
She highlighted that Airbnb has launched an enhanced cleaning protocol – the first overarching standardised guidelines for cleaning and sanitisation in the home-sharing industry, to deal with the current Covid-19 pandemic.
The new cleaning protocol was developed in partnership with leading experts in hospitality and medical hygiene.