The Tourism Amendment Bill which was recently gazetted which means ‘short-term home rentals’ will now be legislated under the Tourism Act in South Africa.
Under the amendments, the minister of tourism will have the power to specify certain ‘thresholds’ when it comes to Airbnb rentals in South Africa.
These thresholds can include limits on the number of nights that a guest can stay, or even how much income an Airbnb host can earn.
According to the department, this would ensure that “everyone gets their fair share” and that both private users of Airbnb and hotel groups get to enjoy a shared economy.
The department also plans to give more oversight to local government when it comes to zoning and where an Airbnb may be located.
Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom explains
Speaking to Business Day TV, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said there is no reason for angst from people who use Airbnb.
“The proposal is that the minister will be able to regulate short term rentals. It is not about killing Airbnb, but rather to address the concerns from guest houses and hotels,” he said.
Hanekom said guest houses and hotels have to abide by certain rules, while the Airbnb establishments don’t.
This amounts to unfair competition, he said, because Airbnb hosts do not have the same overheads as guest houses and hotels.
This means that guest houses and hotels are often more expensive, and they therefore lose out to cheaper Airbnb competitors.
Airbnb wants regulation – minister
Hanekom said the regulation of Airbnb is not uncommon, highlighting that it has been done in Greece, Paris, and London.
He also revealed that Airbnb told him two years ago that they preferred to be regulated because it creates certainty for the company.
“They don’t want to be regarded as an anomaly which is unfair competition to established tourism businesses,” he said.
Hanekom said Airbnb therefore wants appropriate regulation, which may include limiting the number of days a year when it can operate.