Peer-to-peer property rental accommodation platform Airbnb on Tuesday announced that it will invest $1 million through 2020 to promote and support community-led tourism projects in Africa. 

Airbnb said this commitment is part of its vision to empower communities through home sharing and to promote people-to-people tourism that benefits local families and their communities.

The investments, Airbnb said, will be put to work in 2018 and will focus on empowering townships through hosting, promoting sustainable and inclusive tourism through technology, and supporting locals and nonprofits through Airbnb travel.

The announcement was made on Tuesday by Chris Lehane, Airbnb global head of public policy and public affairs, in Johannesburg together with Mayor Herman Mashaba.

It followed the presentation of a study demonstrating how Airbnb hosts in Africa have welcomed 1.2 million guests to the continent in the past year while earning a combined $139 million in host income.

Lehane said Airbnb travel is already delivering significant economic benefits for Africa and this investment will help kickstart new benefits for more people across the continent.

“By leveraging technology to boost people-to-people tourism in Africa, we can help build a new economic engine for local families and their communities, while helping more guests enjoy magical travel experiences through the eyes of locals,” Lehane said.

Mashaba said that he loves how Airbnb was doing business unusually and driving change.

“Gold was the driver of tourism in Johannesburg once. We are running out of gold. I think tourism can be the new ‘gold’ for the City of Joburg,” Mashaba said.

Meanwhile, Airbnb also released a study highlighting the economic and social benefits of travel using Airbnb for local families and their communities. 

The study shows that there are now more than 100,000 homes listed on Airbnb in Africa and that there have been more than two million all-time global guest arrivals using Airbnb, helping spread tourism benefits beyond hotels and tourist hotspots. 

 – African News Agency (ANA)