This is according to Airbnb general manager for the Middle East and AfricaNicola D’Elia, who is visiting South Africa this week.
Airbnb uses internet technology to enable ordinary property owners to rent out rooms and even entire homes to guests from anywhere in the world.
The number of South African homes listed on Airbnb has jumped from around 9 000 in July this year to 13 000, said D’Elia.
But on a year-on-year basis, he told Fin24 the service has grown 163% in terms of local homes listed, while the number of nights booked in South Africa has increased 259%.
South Africa is Airbnb’s biggest African market followed by Morocco, which has 9 000 homes, said D’Elia.
“It’s a bit like the S-curve where we’re now at that point where growth is becoming exponential,” D’Elia told Fin24.
“So, I think there is still huge potential.”
At this stage it is hard to determine if demand is outstripping supply as hosts can have multiple night bookings from different guests, D’Elia explained.
Cape Town is Africa’s top city
But Durban has experienced 500% growth in Airbnb year-on-year, Cape Town 224% and Johannesburg 320%, said D’Elia.
Up to 70% of Airbnb guests in South Africa are also international, he explained.
D’Elia said key reasons for Airbnb’s growth in South Africa include people enjoying the service, a greater trust in the platform and even word of mouth marketing.
“We are going back to what travelling and hospitality was 100 to 200 years ago. I would say hotels were a disruptor at the time because people… were staying at people’s homes before,” D’Elia told Fin24.