Tourism minister meets with Airbnb representatives
20 May 2019
The tourism minister, Derek Hanekom, has described Airbnb as an example of “game changing innovations that are opening up new markets for destinations, offering travelers affordable holidays, and allowing smaller industry players to thrive”.
The comments follow a meeting between the minister and representatives of the global online accommodation booking platform – Airbnb- to discuss various policy issues with particular focus on the regulation of short-term home rentals.
The minister added that the ease of use of shared-economy platforms was allowing businesses such as Airbnb to thrive.
In a statement, the tourism department indicated that the meeting took place in the context of the current call for public comment on the Draft Tourism Amendment Bill.
The draft bill was published for comment in Government Gazette 42404 in April 2019.
It aims to amend the Tourism Act of 2014, so as to:
- provide for certain definitions;
- provide for the determination of thresholds for short -term home sharing;
- provide for the renaming of the South African Tourism Board as South African Tourism;
- provide for additional competence requirements of tourists guides;
- provide for the regulation of safety in relation to tourist guiding and the improvement of the tourist guiding experience; and
- provide for matters connected herewith.
Clause 22 stipulates that the tourism minister can make regulations necessary to enhance tourist safety and the tourist guiding experience including setting permissible ratios of tourist guides to tourists.
The draft bill also proposes that the board can delegate or assign powers or duties to a committee of the board, to an employee of South African Tourism or with the concurrence of the minister to any other suitable body.
The proposed legislation also calls for the Registrar, when absent from office, to designate a departmental official to act as Registrar.
The department highlighted that the proposed legislation sought to address the regulatory vacuum on short-term rentals by defining short-term home rentals as “the renting or leasing on a temporary basis, for reward, of a dwelling or a part thereof, to a visitor.”
The minister would also be empowered to determine thresholds for short-term home sharing via a notice in the Government Gazette.
According to the statement, in the meeting, Airbnb acknowledged the “need for a proactive legislative and policy response underscored by sound destination management and interventions aimed at enhancing the visitor experience”.
The minister “welcomed the spirit of the discussion and cooperation from Airbnb, and further appreciated their commitment to contribute constructively to the legislative review processes, in support of our country’s tourism development growth objectives”.(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)