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Cape Town Airbnb And Sustainability: Balancing Act for Airbnb in Cape Town

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Cape Town Airbnb And Sustainability: The Rising Responsibly in the Mother City

Airbnb And Sustainability Rising Responsibly in the Mother City

Before we read this article on Cape Town Airbnb And Sustainability, let’s come down to earth. Although we have the responsibility to sustainability we must never be so woke that we forget that Airbnb is not the problem. The changing world of tourism is putting pressure on old norms and practices. And take note: while there is poverty all our woke ideas are just ideas. While we do a bad job generating electricity don’t tell poor people not to use coals. Okay. That’s out of the way. Let’s look at sustainability with regard to short-term rentals…

Airbnb listings have been growing rapidly worldwide, with an average year-over-year growth of 27% in key global cities as of August 2023, according to a recent tourism industry report by Transparent.

This rising popularity of short-term vacation rentals is a double-edged sword for sustainability.

On the one hand, Airbnb allows travellers to have unique local experiences and can attract more sustainable forms of tourism. However, concerns about housing availability, environmental impacts, and economic seasonality present challenges. Hosts and platforms must innovate to find the right balance.

Cape Town saw Airbnb listings grow over 60% from 2020 to 2022

This balancing act is playing out in Cape Town, where Airbnb demand has boomed. According to an analysis by AirDNA, Cape Town saw Airbnb listings grow over 60% from 2020 to 2022. With its beautiful landscapes and vibrant culture, it’s easy to see why “The Mother City” is attracting global travellers. However the recent tourism industry report by Transparent showed Cape Town grew by 24% year on year. If we continue that every 4 years the Airbnb in Cape Town doubles.

Airbnb And Sustainability Rising Responsibly in the Mother City

Note to Airbnb Owners and hosts: never underestimate the impact of supply on demand. If you don’t invest in technology like dynamic pricing, if you don’t add uniqueness (differentiating with high-demand features) and simple things like pet-friendly stays, you will just become another cookie-cutter Airbnb.

However, locals have raised concerns about the influx of short-term rentals reducing availability of long-term housing. More here. And South Africa as a whole wants to ensure the sector is properly regulated.

That’s why it’s promising news that South Africa’s Department of Tourism recently signed an MoU with Airbnb to promote sustainable tourism growth. The agreement includes collaborating to create a national database of short-term rental listings, sharing insights on international best practices for regulation, and working together on skills training to create more inclusive tourism entrepreneurship.

For Airbnb hosts and management agencies like CapeHolidays here in Cape Town, it presents a tremendous opportunity.

By working with the government and focusing on sustainability, we can realise the full economic potential of Airbnb while preserving the very qualities that make this such an alluring destination for travellers from around the world.

Implementing innovative solutions like eco-friendly property features, dynamic pricing to smooth seasonal revenue gaps, adapt to rapidly changing demand, and partnerships to attract repeat, local visitors will be key.

The Airbnb model empowers small tourism entrepreneurs, and Cape Town hosts who lead the way on sustainability will show how short-term rentals can empower rather than endanger.

By joining forces across the public and private sectors, platforms like Airbnb can grow responsibly and contribute to sustainable development in Cape Town. The future looks bright if we keep sustainability at the centre.

Global Sustainability Stats On Short-Term Rentals

Here are the key points from the report by Transparent regarding the sustainability of short-term rentals like Airbnb:


  • Global growth in Airbnb listings and demand. On average, property counts increased 27% year-over-year across key global cities as of August 2023. This shows strong continued demand growth for short-term rentals.
  • Opportunities for hosts to engage in sustainability initiatives. 46% more hotels than Airbnb’s have enrolled in’s sustainability program, indicating an untapped potential for Airbnb hosts to implement sustainable practices.
  • Ability to attract sustainable travellers. Airbnbs can appeal to travellers looking for longer, low-season stays and local experiences, which is more sustainable travel.


  • Density and impact on residential housing. High density of Airbnbs compared to the population (e.g. London) reduces the availability of residential properties. Active rentals not just occasionally listed impact this more.
  • Environmental footprint. Guest travel contributes significantly to emissions based on distance travelled. Need to encourage more local and longer stays. Energy usage of properties also varies and impacts emissions.
  • Seasonality and economic sustainability. Heavy seasonality (e.g. Athens) means tourism revenue is not steady year-round. Technology like dynamic pricing can help balance demand.

In summary, the report shows strong continued growth for Airbnb globally but highlights areas like housing impact, emissions, and seasonality as sustainability challenges that require thought and innovation from hosts and platforms.

Technology and data insights can help Airbnb owners address these, for example through dynamic pricing, sustainability initiatives, differentiating with unique features and marketing to attract sustainable travellers.

Top 5 Cape Town Airbnb Sustainability Strategies For Short Term Rentals

Here are 5 top sustainable strategies for short-term rental owners to consider:

  1. Implement eco-friendly features like energy-efficient appliances, low-flow fixtures, and smart thermostats [Ref]. This reduces energy and water consumption. Cape Town winter is heavy on energy. Invest in ways to isolate the home. With our current lack of energy, consider wood-fired room fireplaces.
  2. Provide info sheets on sustainability practices guests can follow, like recycling procedures and options to forego frequent linen washing [ref]. This educates and engages guests.
  3. Use eco-friendly cleaning products and linens from sustainable sources [ref]. This reduces the use of harsh chemicals.
  4. Offer discounts for local and repeat guests to reduce air miles travelled [ref]. This lowers the environmental impact of travel. (This is not currently possible with Airbnb).
  5. Use dynamic pricing tools to smooth out seasonal revenue gaps and to adapt to low-demand periods. This allows you to optimise occupancy year-round.

Let me know your thoughts on practical ways to consider Cape Town Airbnb And Sustainability.


Johan Horak

One Of the Horak Clan where we either try to do it right or not get involved.


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