Airbnb Organises First Ever Africa Travel Summit

Airbnb is making good on its promised commitment to Africa. Last year Chris Lehane, Head of Global Policy and Public Affairs at Airbnb, announced that the home sharing company will invest $1 million through 2020 to promote and support community-led tourism projects in Africa. This commitment is part of Airbnb’s vision to empower communities through home sharing and to promote people-to-people tourism that benefits local families and their communities.

Airbnb travel summit

Putting together the upcoming Africa Travel Summit, hosted by Airbnb at Guga S’Thebe in Langa from September 11 to 13, is part of this commitment. Airbnb will convene an inspiring line-up of speakers and panelists that will discuss the opportunities and challenges of tourism and technology with about 170 delegates from all over Africa. What are the real drivers of change? How can the economic benefits of tourism be brought to small businesses and local residents in Africa?

Discussion topics include:

  • Tourism for All: A scene-setting discussion on the potential of innovation and technology to help tourism deliver economic empowerment in communities across Africa
  • Telling the Africa Story:The role of the media in shaping Africa’s narrative: A discussion with travel writers, bloggers and journalists on how media can help in getting people off the beaten track and support underserved communities
  • Financing as an enabler for technology and tourism development:A discussion facilitated by the World Bank Group on innovations in flexible financing that can help more people and SMEs access financing for their innovations
  • Resilient Tourism in times of Crisis:Cape Town is facing its worst drought in over 100 years. Delve into an in-depth discussion on building sustainable, resilient tourism fueled by innovation and technology

Over three days, delegates will share expertise and ideas on what tourism can do to empower more people in Africa, hear from innovators who are helping democratise tourism in Africa, and learn about the Airbnb Africa Academy – Airbnb’s newest programme to connect underserved communities to tourism in South Africa through technology.

Chris Lehane, Global Head of Public Policy and Public Affairs for Airbnb, says:

“At Airbnb, we believe in democratising the benefits of tourism as travel becomes an increasingly bigger part of the global economy. With Africa poised to become an even bigger player in global travel, it is critical that everyone in the travel sector work together to make sure the benefits go to local families and communities. By hosting the Africa Travel Summit, we will bring together the leading thinkers from what is an incredibly diverse continent to discuss how we can leverage technology and innovation to empower more local families and their communities to benefit from the economics of African travel.”

Speakers include Co-founder of She Leads Africa, Afua Osei; Global strategic advisor and five-time published author in Tourism & Economic Development, Anita Mendiratta; Global Head of Public Policy and Communications, Airbnb, Chris Lehane; CEO of Thebe Tourism, Jerry Mabena;  Senior Travel Specialist at The World Bank Group, Hermione Neville; General Manager of MEST Lagos Incubator, Neku Atawodi-Edun; Executive Director of KECOBAT, Taiko Lemayian; Country Manager, Airbnb, Velma Corcoran; and many more.

Velma Corcoran, Country Manager for Airbnb in South Africa said:

“It’s an honour for us to host the first Africa Travel Summit right here in the vibrant neighbourhood of Langa, Cape Town. We are thrilled that key decision and policy makers from across Africa will be joining us for this three-day event that we are certain will both inspire and ignite much-needed debate around tourism in Africa.”

More information on the Africa Travel Summit can be found at

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