Cape Town to offer cheaper accommodation to attract online workers

Western Cape tourism company Wesgro has entered into an agreement with Airbnb to promote the province as an ideal place for digital nomads to work.

The deal will see Airbnb offering up to 50% off stays longer than 28 days, said Deidré Baartman, the DA’s provincial spokesperson for Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism.

“Digital nomads will now be able to take advantage of the Western Cape’s tech- and entrepreneur-friendly economy at an affordable price, with Airbnb offering up to 50% off stays longer than 28 days.

“Covid-19 has had a profound effect on the way in which we work, and increasingly businesses and professionals have opted to work remotely.

“Our domestic market is more important than ever due to the continued slump in international travellers visiting our province,” said Baartman.

2018 data from Airbnb shows that stays contributed R8.9 billion to the local economy and supported 22,000 jobs.

The long term nature of their stays also means that hosts have consistent income, and local businesses and communities are supported by the increased spending.

As the work and tourism environment continue to adapt, Baartman said that government needs to be taking innovative steps, such as this, to see one of the biggest job creators in the province recover after prolonged lockdown measures.

In his February state of the province address, Western Cape premier Alan Winde said that his provincial government would lobby the national Department of Home Affairs to develop and roll out a Remote Working Visa to welcome back international travellers for long terms stays.

The visa is aimed at attracting ‘digital nomads’ – people who will live in and work remotely from cities such as Cape Town.

Visas for digital nomads are travel permits that legalise the status of travelling professionals. Like tourist visas, they are easy to obtain and do not require long paperwork and a work contract. However, they allow for longer stays.

The city’s mayoral committee member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, James Vos, said with people working from home during the pandemic, the digital nomads concept has become a much-needed escape and great opportunity to take work on a holiday.

“We are seeing innovation within the tourism sector to accommodate the changed behaviour of remote working by offering affordable long-term stays, including other benefits required to work remotely and we will expand this message through the broad range of products and businesses who can use a leg up in this challenging time.

“An abundance of natural beauty and wide-open spaces makes Cape Town an ideal location to live and work with solid fibre infrastructure and top-class hospitality services and products.”

Vos said that the visa will be targeted at workers who are looking to end ‘work from home boredom’ and ‘Zoom fatigue’.

Read: Western Cape wants South Africa to introduce a new ‘remote working’ visa

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Cape Town to offer cheaper accommodation to attract online workers