Proposed Law to Regulate Airbnb in South Africa Challenged

A small business lobby group called Sakeliga is considering taking legal action to challenge a new bill that will regulate short-term home rentals in South Africa, including those listed on the popular online platform Airbnb.

It’s called the Tourism Amendment Bill, and just last week, the Government published it for public commentary. Should it be signed into law, short-term rentals and Airbnb listings will be regulated under the Tourism Act.  This comes hot on the heels of The Tourism Business Council of South Africa stating that hotels in South Africa are losing millions of rands because tourists are opting for Airbnb instead.

Similar concerns were raised about e-hailing services, like Uber and Taxify, a few years ago.

How could the Tourism Amendment Bill affect Airbnb hosts?

Essentially, the Minister of Tourism could place certain limits and restrictions on Airbnb rentals, for example:

  • The number of nights guests can stay in a specific rental, and
  • Capping the amount of money a single host can earn.

What’s the lobby group’s position?

The group’s senior analyst, Gerhard van Onselen, released the following in a statement: “The bill is ostensibly aimed at promoting the tourism industry, but really the bill is about intervening in the business of small-scale, short-term home rentals and the services offered by companies like Airbnb. The minister is not going to promote the tourism industry, he is going to artificially drive up prices and interfere in an industry that regulates itself much better than government can”.

As mentioned, the Tourism Amendment Bill hasn’t been signed into law just yet

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