CAPE TOWN, May 17 (Xinhua) -- South Africa welcomes game changing innovation that will open up new markets for tourism destinations, Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said on Friday.
The innovation such as Airbnb offer travelers affordable holidays and allow smaller industry players to thrive, Hanekom said.
Many of these are able to flourish through the ease of using shared-economy platforms, he added.
He was speaking at a meeting in Cape Town with representatives of the global online accommodation booking platform Airbnb to discuss various policy issues, in particular the regulation of short-term home rentals.
The meeting took place amid rising concern over the government's bid to regulate Airbnb and other home-sharing apps.
The government published the Tourism Amendment Bill (TAB) last month for public comment.
Hanekom welcomed the spirit of the discussion and cooperation from Airbnb, and voiced appreciation for their commitment to contributing constructively to the legislative review processes, in support of the country's tourism development growth objectives.
The TAB aims, amongst others, to address the regulatory vacuum on short-term rentals by defining short-term home rentals as "the renting or leasing on a temporary basis, for reward, of a dwelling or a part thereof, to a visitor."
It also seeks to enable the Ministry of Tourism to determine thresholds regarding short-term home rentals. This could include limits on the number of nights that a guest can stay or even how much income an Airbnb earns.
"We urge our stakeholders to submit their comments, to enable us to strengthen the Bill in order to serve the interest of inclusive tourism growth in South Africa," said Victor Tharage, Director-General of the Department of Tourism.
Airbnb, headquartered in San Francisco, operates a global online marketplace and hospitality service accessible via its websites and mobile apps. Members can use the service to arrange or offer lodging, primarily homestays, or tourism experiences.
About 2 million people have made use of the platform in South Africa, official figures show.
However, the platform has increasingly come under fire in South Africa, where local hotels are concerned that the unregistered accommodation establishments listed on the platform are taking away business from established bed-and-breakfast lodges and hotels.