A non-profit organisation called Ikhaya Le Langa – run by women in Langa, Cape Town – is making headlines by renting out overnight accommodation on AirBNB.
Pan-African development website Elicit Africa says the initiative is fast turning one of South Africa’s oldest townships into a prime tourist attraction. Earlier in the week Rapport Newspaper published statistics suggesting that more than 240,000 guests booked accommodation in Cape Town through Airbnb last year (2016). Bookings in townships and particularly in Langa are notably on the rise.
Ikhaya Le Langa (House of Sun) says it wants to revitalise the Langa Quarter, an area of 13 streets comprising five hundred homes housing approximately 7,000 people, by creating jobs and business opportunities through tourism and the redevelopment of the broader Langa neighbourhood. Rooms advertised in homes in Langa is aiding Ikhaya Le Langa’s aim to transform Langa into a tourist attraction.
MyBroadband.co.za reports staying in South African townships by booking through the AirBNB app is growing in popularity throughout the country. Initial safety concerns is not deterring people from doing so. Quoting one Langa host, the website reports AirBNB is breaking down barriers and helps visitors to feel safer. “So long as your host looks after you, safety won’t be a problem,” she said. “The community welcomes guests that stay here. It is really just the fear of the unknown that people must overcome.”
AirBNB co-founder Brian Chesky has visited guest houses in the area to offer advice on how to treat guests.
MyBroadband.co.za, however, also reports that not all Cape Town residents are fans of the service. Some have blamed the popularity of AirBNB for a rental crisis in the city.
According to reports, homeowners and investors now make more money from shorter stays than from long-term tenants.
Brett Herron, mayoral committee member for transport and urban development at the City of Cape Town, said efforts are underway to address the issue and that is not a problem unique to Cape Town. Cape Town will need to provide an additional 650,000 housing opportunities across the city, at an estimated cost of R101 billion, over the next 20 years, he said.