Airbnb is in discussion with the government about recent regulation by the Department of Tourism. The Tourism Amendment Bill dictates that short-term home rentals will henceforth be regulated by the Tourism Act.

One of the amendments gives the minister for tourism the power to dictate some thresholds regarding Airbnb users in South Africa. These thresholds could include limiting the number of nights a guest stays and the amount Airbnb earns.

The Department of Tourism says that these new regulations ensure that “everyone gets their fair share,” and reduce unfair competition on hotel groups.

Additionally, the tourism department plans to grant the local governments more authority on zoning and the locations of Airbnbs.

These regulations have received a bad reception from free-market groups and, of course, home owners who use the Airbnb platform. According to these groups, these regulations reduce competition as they decrease choices.

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But tourism groups are happy with the move, saying these regulations will level the playing field as they will make Airbnb abide by the same rules the hospitality companies follow.

Airbnb said it does not have a problem with rules and regulations for as long as they are clear and progressive. It also expressed its support for sustainable growth in the home-sharing sector.

“We are having productive discussions with the government, based on our experience working with more than 500 governments around the world, on measures to help hosts share their homes, follow the rules and pay their fair share of tax,” a spokesperson for the home-sharing company said.

The company said that it experiences growth by reflecting how people live, travel, and work.

“While travel on our platforms accounts for less than one in eight visitors to South Africa, studies show those guests boosted the economy by R8.7 billion and helped create 22,000 jobs last year alone.”

This healthy and sustainable tourism model – with hosts also keeping up to 97% of the price they charge to rent the space – is transforming local economies and makes Airbnb fundamentally different to businesses that take money out of the places they do business in.”

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