Fast-growing online lodging service Airbnb has outlined plans to expand its presence in South Africa.
The company’s CEO, Brian Chesky, who was in Johannesburg on Monday, said the country is already Airbnb’s biggest market in Africa.
It will now look to grow this further with the appointment of Nicola D’Elia as its GM for the Middle East and Africa.
Previously, D’Elia was responsible for Facebook’s growth and partnerships in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
D’Elia said that although Airbnb has no immediate plans to establish a physical presence in South Africa, it is inevitable that it will open a local office to serve the market.
“It’s important to have a local presence to engage the community. We have meet-ups in other cities. We will start having a team in place… It’s the natural thing to do,” D’Elia told journalists on Monday.
Chesky said that of the 30 000 Airbnb homes in Africa, about a third are in South Africa.
Airbnb has 1,5m homes worldwide listed through its service. These homes are to be found in 34 000 cities in 191 countries, said Chesky.
“We’ve now had 45m guests all over the world use Airbnb,” he said.
Airbnb said that South Africa has 9 400 homes listed through its service, an increase of 138% in the past 12 months. The number of people staying in venues booked through Airbnb in South Africa increased by 257% in the same period.
South African travellers are embracing the service as well, with those using Airbnb to travel in the past year increasing by 163%. Most use Airbnb to travel within the country. The most popular international destinations for South African travellers include the US, Italy, France and the UK.
Across Africa, two of the five largest markets for Airbnb are in South Africa, namely Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Airbnb was founded in San Francisco in 2008. In March 2015, the company raised a new round of funding giving it a valuation of US$20bn. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media