JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – U.S. short-term rental service Airbnb Inc registered 1.2 million guest arrivals in Africa last year driven by the plugged-in millennial generation, its senior official said on Tuesday.
Airbnb has shaken up the market for travel accommodation, competing with hotels by allowing people to rent out their homes or apartments, either in full or as part of a house-share.
Presenting the latest figures at the Johannesburg City Hall, Chris Lehane, Airbnb’s Global Head of Public Policy and Public Affairs, said growth in inbound visitors to Africa jumped from 572,000 in the period 2015-16 to 1.2 million in September 2016- September 2017.
South Africa is the leading country on the continent in total guest arrivals, followed by Morocco.
Close to 60 percent of trips in the past year were booked by millennials and 18 percent of guests are traveling as part of a family.
“Millennials in particular are looking for authentic and real experiences. They don’t want mass travel, they want the sort of healthy, sustainable, authentic and real travel,” Lehane said.
Usually defined as people who reached adulthood around 2000, millennials use online travel sites that aggregate thousands of hotels and make choices based on peer reviews, according to leisure-and-hospitality industry advisor Grant Thornton.
They want to feel like locals in a bar or food market where they can hang out with people from the neighborhood and tuck in to locally sourced food.
Airbnb this year launched Experiences in South Africa, an offer through which locals create unique activities, giving travelers access and deep insights into communities and places they may not otherwise come across.
Lehane said the firm will invest $1 million through 2020 to “promote and support community-led tourism projects in Africa”, where 100,000 listings were reached last year.
(Reporting by Nqobile Dludla, editing by Ed Osmond)