Airbnb has opened up South Africa to tourists like never before – with less affluent areas benefitting from international visitors from the USA, France, Germany and many other international visitors.

A view of Cape Town from Table Mountain.

A view of Cape Town from Table Mountain. Image by thomas / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Cape Town area accounts for the majority of Airbnb stays in the country and while the upmarket areas or Atlantic Seaboard and the southern suburbs are posting ‘full’ signs every night, both local and foreign visitors are happy to stay in less well off areas such as Mitchell’s Plain and Kyayelitsha.

Airbnb under scrutiny for illegal advertising. Image by Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta / CC BY-SA 2.0.

Airbnb is opening new and less traditional tourist areas up to visitors to Cape Town. Image by Gustavo da Cunha Pimenta / CC BY-SA 2.0 reports that over the past 12 months, accommodation through Airbnb has shot up by 257%, with South Africans also using the facility at a massively increasing rate.

Of the 9400 Airbnb listings in South Africa, Cape Town and its environs account for over 5000.

And the presence of houses in townships and less ‘showy’ precincts has shown an upward spiral on the accommodation graph. One owner, Fatima Rinquest said she had been astounded at the response for booking at her home in Lower Woodstock since joining Airbnb eight months ago.

She said in that time she has welcomed tourists from Mexico, California, Europe as well as local people on holiday.

She explained that a draw for visitors was the fact that her prices were lower than those in what would be considered traditional ‘tourist’ areas.

The city’s townships are also seeing the potential to make money through the Airbnb phenomenon. One owner said that the Germans and Americans come because they enjoy the township experience.