Airbnb set to scale up its Africa focus

15 Feb Airbnb set to scale up its Africa focus

Airbnb’s success around the globe is set to extend to Africa this year, with the company hoping for significant increases in the number of rooms available in the continent.

Although last year Africa in its entirety had fewer bookings than the city of Paris, recent growth has been significant. South Africa for example, has experienced up to 143% growth last year, with Cape Town proving to be the most popular destination. 

Airbnb has been pushing for market share in Africa since 2014 and more recently reached a milestone of 100,000 listings in Africa in late 2017.

As part of the announcement, the company launched a report titled ‘An overview of the Airbnb community in Africa’, where the company outlines its ambitions for the continent.

Airbnb has already seen success in countries such as Morocco, which has one of the highest rates of European visitors in the continent. Second to South Africa, Morocco boasts the highest number of Airbnb arrivals in the Africa. There are currently 21,000 active listings, and in 2017 the country hosted 297,000 guests.

Despite the undeniable growth the continent has experienced, there are concerns regarding Airbnb’s approach to the entire continent as a single market.

Some countries in Africa will of course do well. And cities such as Cape Town, Marrakesh, Nairobi have proved with their growth trajectory over the past 18 months that there is room for Airbnb to grow. But there remains many parts of the continent that are dominated by traditional hotel operators, who offer packaged and planned holidays.

A legacy of resort, safari and jungle hotels across the continents many destinations dominate the tourism sector across all the sub-markets within the huge continent.

And it is clear that traditional hotel investors remain serious about the continent. Marriott International signed seven new hotels last October. Adding 1,300 guestrooms across new markets, including Benin, Botswana, Madagascar, Mali, Senegal and the Ivory Coast, and existing markets, including Ethiopia, Ghana and Nigeria. Now, the group operates hotels in Algeria, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia. Marriott plans to have more than 200 hotels with 37,000 guestrooms in Africa operating and in its development pipeline by 2022.

Other brands are following suit, and with the liberalisation of inter-African travel and the easing of visa restrictions across the continent. Airbnb could face tough competition.