Airbnb has been at the centre of much debate as the Tourism Business Council of South Africa insists on government to regulate the online accommodation platform. The council claims that the country's hotels are losing millions of rand as tourists choose to use Airbnb instead.
As part of its efforts to regulate the online accommodation platform, government has published the Tourism Amendment Bill, which stipulates that “short-term home rentals” will fall under the Tourism Act.
According to Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) lecturer Unathi Henama, the amendments limits the number of houses that offer the Airbnb experience; the amount of money hosts can make in a year and the demarcation of certain areas where Airbnb can exist.
Henama has criticised the move and says the amendments are completely anti-competitive.
These regulations are done to protect the hotel industry; they are not done for the long-term interests of South Africa's tourism industry.— Unathi Henama, Lecturer - TUT Department of tourism management
Competition is only feared by the weak and hotels are showing that instead of adapting, they are supporting draconian regulations that will destroy a lot of jobs in the economy. Airbnb has created more jobs than it will destroy and gives an avenue for people to have a direct stake in the tourism sector.— Unathi Henama, Lecturer - TUT department of tourism management
Meanwhile, Airbnb says it's having productive discussions with the government on measures that will help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay taxes.
The platform says studies show that guests have boosted the economy by R8.7 billion and helped create 22 000 jobs in 2018.
Airbnb is growing because it reflects the way people live, work and travel today, while travel on our platforms accounts for less than one in eight visitors to South Africa.— Airbnb spokesperson
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