Airbnb’s big problem with South Africa’s proposed tourism laws

Airbnb is concerned that the introduction of the new draft Tourism Amendment Bill has the potential to be unfair to South African citizens and may discourage people from entering the tourism space.

The bill – first announced in April 2019 – empowers the minister of Tourism to determine ‘thresholds’ regarding short-term home rentals such as Airbnb.

This could include limits on the number of nights that a guest can stay or even how much income an Airbnb earns.

“The concern that we have about this proposed amendment is that the bill is not fit for purpose and it actually really does have the potential to threaten the economic lifeblood of many ordinary South Africans wanting to participate in tourism,” said Velma Corcoran, country manager for Sub-Saharan Africa at Airbnb

She added that those from previously disadvantaged communities, who greatly benefit from the opportunity to become tourism entrepreneurs, will likely be hardest hit.

“We had a meeting with the Ministry of Tourism last week. We are very appreciative of the opportunity to engage with them.

“We had the opportunity to share our concerns about the current draft with them (the ministry), saying that we do believe that it has the potential to be unfair and really disadvantage specifically people from previously disadvantaged communities.”

Corcoran said that Airbnb was ‘absolutely open’ to being regulated. However, we believe that those regulations should be clear, fair and fit for purpose, she said.

“One of the things that is important to us is that there is a clear distinction between that which is occasional, non-professional activity and that which is professional and also that you are not increasing the barriers to entry.”

The bill is currently open for public comment. Interested parties have until 11 June to submit concerns on the matter.

You can read more about the bill here.

Read: Government to regulate Airbnb in South Africa

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Airbnb’s big problem with South Africa’s proposed tourism laws