Foreigners Love Using Airbnb For African Accommodation, Locals Not So Much

Foreigners Love Using Airbnb For African Accommodation, Locals Not So Much

Tanzanian tourism entrepreneur, Godwin Ndosi, 23, has hosted hundreds of guests from around the world at his parents’ Arusha home through his listing on Airbnb, but he’s never had a Tanzanian guest, he said in an NPR interview.

Ndosi has achieved “superhost” status on the accommodations rental website, NPR reported. Nearly 200 guests have stayed with him and his parents from countries including the U.S., U.K., Philippines and Malaysia. They’re identified as the “Fun and Lovely Tanzanian Family.” His listing has a five-star rating on the Airbnb site with rave reviews that mention fresh milk from his cows with breakfast and middle-of-the-night airport pickups. Sometimes Ndosi takes guests to visit his uncle and aunt.

Ndosi charges $15 a night including Airbnb’s 3 percent hosting fee — that’s less than his competition which charges $20 to $100 a night, he said.

His “super friendly” mom and dad help entertain the guests, answer questions about Tanzanian culture and customs, and they’re part of the key to his success.

“I never wanted to charge too much for a traveler to experience the local way of living,” he said. “Because of my reviews, people cry to stay with me — or tell me they’ll pay double or triple to stay with me just for five days.”

But one odd thing he noticed is that he has never hosted a fellow Tanzanian.

“Locals don’t want to stay with locals because they’re already locals,” Ndosi told NPR.

Airbnb is working to get more people living in African countries to use Airbnb when they travel domestically, starting with one of Airbnb’s biggest markets: South Africa, said Nicola D’Elia, Airbnb’s general manager for Africa and the Middle East.

The accomodations  booking website is also looking at Africa-friendly payment solutions such as M-Pesa, a mobile payment app used widely across the continent.

Ndosi earned enough cash through Airbnb to fund his entire graduate school education, which he hopes to start soon. The publicity helped him get more customers for his safari company. And he’s investing in more rooms and accommodations in Arusha to expand his Airbnb business — something he now wants to do full time.

In 2015, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky announced plans to rapidly accelerate growth in Africa, particularly in key markets such as Kenya and South Africa, CNN reported in August.

Chesky attended the Global Entrepreneurial Summit 2015 in Nairobi — as did U.S. president Barack Obama and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The service saw its listings more than double in Africa in a year through mid-2015, and the number of users in the region increased by 145 percent. The San Francisco-based company wants to capture an even bigger share of the 60 million tourists that visit Africa each year, according to CNN.

The goal of the summit was to support development of entrepreneurs.

When Airbnb launched in 2008, Africa was a small player. Now more than 44,000 homes in Africa have been listed, and the continent is one of the company’s fastest-growing regions. Airbnb’s largest African markets are South Africa, Morocco and Kenya, NPR reported.

“This growth has largely been driven organically by word of mouth,” D’Elia said on CNN. “By building a team to focus on the region, we hope to further accelerate this growth.”

People like Ndosi are encouraging global tourists on Airbnb to connect directly to the local economy, NPR reported.

Local tourists may be the next frontier.