With the tourism industry in KwaZulu-Natal taking a hammering during the lockdown, welcome support has emerged from Airbnb, which announced that it will support domestic tourism in KZN.
Airbnb said it would join forces with Tourism KwaZulu-Natal to promote domestic travel as lockdown measures start to ease.
According to Airbnb data, domestic tourism has traditionally been strong in South Africa. More than 80% of local trips booked on Airbnb this January and February were booked by South Africans.
Additionally, in 2015, just under 40% of bookings by guests from South Africa were domestic but by 2019 that had risen to nearly 75% of bookings.
Phindile Makwakwa, acting CEO of Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, said the Airbnb support synched with the province’s tourism recovery strategy that will see local people at the front line – not visitors from further afield – once lockdown measures are lifted.
Velma Corcoran, country manager for South Africa at Airbnb, said: “Airbnb is uniquely positioned to support the country and help communities and businesses recover through domestic travel.
“We know that South Africans love to travel locally and it will be central to the recovery of tourism in the region. We are so pleased to be able to work with Tourism KZN to respond innovatively to the challenges and drive domestic tourism and economic benefit for KwaZulu-Natal.”
Tapping into the demand for nearby trips, Airbnb is updating its platform to help guests rediscover the magic in their own backyards by making it easier to Go Near and book local travel. This includes updating the Airbnb website and app to highlight nearby getaways.
Makwakwa said: “Airbnb has been a catalyst for the growth of entrepreneurial tourism and this spirit will certainly help with our efforts to inspire travellers to consider the region for their next adventure.
“The Zulu Kingdom has such a distinct fusion of raw natural beauty and cultural diversity and we are proud to be in partnership with Airbnb: the opportunities presented by this collaboration are very exciting.”
Airbnb’s partnerships with Tourism KZN is based on three central pillars: sharing travel trends and data on how South Africans are planning to travel as lockdown measures begin to ease; leveraging the Airbnb platform to shine a spotlight on featured regions (connecting guests to new, nearby destinations); and sharing tools to help Tourism KZN tap into online and in-person experiences on Airbnb.