The news follows on from Airbnb’s own remote-working policy, where co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky told employees they could work from anywhere. In the first week following the announcement, Airbnb received more than 1 million visitors to its career page - reinforcing the appetite people have to live and work anywhere.
Earlier this year, Airbnb launched its Live and Work Anywhere initiative to identify some of the most remote worker-friendly destinations in the world, and support governments and Destination Marketing Organisations (DMOs) in helping to revive tourism and provide economic support to communities after two-plus years of travel restrictions.
Over the next few months, Airbnb will work closely with Cape Town Tourism on a range of initiatives, including building a dedicated custom-built hub for Cape Town that will showcase top local long-term stay listings as well as important information relating to entry requirements and visa policies to attract remote workers. Airbnb will also partner with Cape Town on educational campaigns to promote responsible hosting and travelling as a remote worker. The Cape Town hub is expected to launch later this year.
Millions of people are now more flexible about where they live and work. As a result, they’re spreading to thousands of towns and cities, staying for weeks, months, or even entire seasons at a time. About one in five guests globally reported using Airbnb to work remotely while travelling in 2021 — a trend that has continued into Q1 2022, with long-term stays at an all-time high, more than doubling in size from Q1 2019. They are essentially “living” on Airbnb as guests have already planned stays in over 72,000 cities and towns this summer.
Research conducted by the Harvard Business School shows that while it is clear that digital nomads, and remote workers in general, can be a boon to any economy, they also might play a key role in fostering entrepreneurship in the communities where they stay, creating "technology clusters" around the world.
Nathan Blecharczyck, Airbnb co-founder and chief strategy officer, says: "In the two years since the pandemic began, a new world of travel has emerged in which many workers are untethered to an office. In collaborating with these destinations, we want to make it easier for workers to enjoy this flexibility and support the return of safe and responsible travel. We know that travel brings significant economic opportunity to local communities and connects people around the world. We’re excited to launch this one-stop shop for anyone thinking of joining the millions of workers that are already enjoying this new trend of working flexibility and travel."
The 20 destinations Airbnb will spotlight include:
1. Baja California Sur, Mexico
2. Bali, Indonesia
3. Brindisi, Puglia, Italy
4. Buenos Aires, Argentina
6. Canary Islands, Spain
7. Cape Town, South Africa
9. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
10. Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Italy
11. Lisbon, Portugal
13. Mexico City, Mexico
14. Palm Springs, California, USA
15. Queensland, Australia
16. Rural France
17. Salzkammergut, Austria
18. Tampa Bay, Florida, USA
20. Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
Alderman James Vos, the City of Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for economic growth, says: "The City government has long been leading the charge to fully tap into the economic potential presented by the remote worker community. We have been pushing for a remote worker visa and have presented a proposal to National Government on how it can be implemented.
"We have learnt that each one of these working tourists tends to spend up to R50,000 during their stay which has the potential to add up to a significant boon for the economy. This revenue reaches multiple industries, including educational institutions, transport, accommodation, retail, and restaurants. I look forward to fully exploring this market with Cape Town Tourism, and Airbnb."
Leigh Dawber, Cape Town Tourism's chief marketing officer, says: "We are incredibly proud to be profiled by Airbnb as one of the world’s best cities for remote working. Cape Town offers an unparalleled experience as an inclusive, hospitable African city in the heart of nature. The work-life balance that our city offers is truly unique.
"You can work while looking up at Table Mountain, one of the 7th Natural Wonders of the World, and down at a beautiful sea view of one of our three blue flag coastlines, all at the same time. Being recognised as a World Design Capital and a leading African City for innovation, we welcome business travellers to visit Cape Town to be inspired and get the best of both worlds."