Airbnb has distributed R1 million in financial relief to help South African hosts who are waiting for the government to relax regulations imposed on the company due to the national lockdown.
The company said the funds have been allocated to Airbnb Africa Academy hosts, of whom many are from under-resourced areas from around the country and rely on Airbnb to support themselves and their families.
“Developed as part of Airbnb’s $1 million commitment to inclusive tourism in Africa, the Airbnb Africa Academy has provided training for 220 people ‒ with 70% of participants being women,” said Airbnb.
“Recipients of the fund are hosts who previously received training through the Academy, enabling them to become micro-entrepreneurs using the Airbnb platform.”
Airbnb said the fund forms part of its ‘get behind the mask’ campaign, which saw it also commit R350,000 towards the production and distribution of masks in South Africa.
Airbnb remains closed
Airbnb remains closed despite the reopening of hotels and other accommodation – a decision which the company has criticised.
Airbnb Sub Saharan Africa country manager Velma Corcoran said that Airbnb hosts will suffer greatly due to the President’s decision.
“President Ramaphosa’s statement … that travel will reopen shortly would, therefore, have been welcome news to many hoteliers and travel businesses across South Africa,” Corcoran said.
“The many everyday South Africans who host on Airbnb however, who were singled out as being excluded from this announcement, have viewed the statement as a missed opportunity that leaves them confused and left behind.”
“For example, many might 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,” Corcoran said.
She said that other governments have said that Airbnb would be ‘at the front of the queue’ when travel reopens.
“The decision to exclude local hosts on Airbnb will have far-reaching consequences that will hurt many across South Africa, including a disproportionate impact on many families and small businesses, who rely most on the additional income they earn from hosting,” Corcoran said.
Airbnb told MyBroadband that it has been informed by the Ministry of Tourism that the mention of Airbnb in its initial announcement was an error.
“The Ministry of Tourism has informed Airbnb that there is no intention to shut the platform down, and that the specific mention of Airbnb in the initial announcement was an unfortunate error,” said Airbnb.
“It is further clear that all forms of accommodation are open for intra-provincial travel for any purposes other than leisure travel.”