This week, Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis and the Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Growth, Alderman James Vos, shared details of the City’s plans to attract digital nomads, highlighting a new partnership with Airbnb to target these working travellers.
The partnership sees the City’s official Destination Marketing Organisation, Cape Town Tourism, collaborate with Airbnb to promote the metro to remote workers seeking accommodation for their long term stays.
‘With its beaches, bars, mountains and vineyards all on one’s doorstep, alongside infrastructure that lets people get online at coffee shops or co-working spaces, Cape Town is the ideal location for digital nomads. The City is working continuously to ensure that Cape Town is the safest, cleanest, most welcoming city in South Africa and beyond,’ said Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.
‘Innovation is necessary to continuously attract travellers. Digital nomads make up an ever-expanding market within tourism. A new world of work has emerged where professionals are swapping the office for a room with a view. More and more countries are launching remote work visas and South Africa literally cannot afford to be left behind, especially when other parts of the country, just like Cape Town, have so much to offer these travellers who drive significant revenue into local economies’ said Mayor Hill-Lewis.
Alderman Vos said it was clear that the remote worker model was not merely a passing trend and that destinations and tourism operators needed to make sure they responded to changing needs in traveller demand.
‘A 2021 survey of global professionals found that 74% of them believe remote working will become the new normal while 97% of employees and entrepreneurs said they wanted flexibility in terms of where they do their jobs. Surveyed digital nomads have also said that Cape Town is one of their favourite cities for living, working and playing and so we quickly learned that this is something that we as a City must get ahead of. This is why we approached Airbnb, the global leader in the home-stay platform and who recently initiated a policy to let their employees live and work from anywhere in the world,’ said Alderman Vos.
The partnership agreement will include a range of initiatives, such as a dedicated custom-built Airbnb hub for Cape Town that will showcase top local long-term listings and information relating to entry requirements and visa policies.
‘We would certainly attract significantly more international digital nomads if National Government enacted the Remote Worker Visa which the president said was being considered. Pushing for this visa remains one of my top priorities. More than a year ago, I submitted a proposal to National Government for an amendment to Section 11 of the Immigration Act which relates to an extension of visas beyond 90 days for specific activities. This is because remote workers tend to stay beyond three months in a location while spending up to R50 000,’ said Alderman Vos.
While National Government has yet to make an official announcement on the issuing of a Remote Worker Visa, Alderman Vos said the City has already begun liaising with providers and leaders of the tourism and hospitality industries.
‘As a City, we are leading from the front by working with accommodation providers and organisations such as the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) on product pricing and readiness that aligns with the needs of remote workers,’ said Alderman Vos.
Velma Corcoran, Regional Lead for Middle East Africa at Airbnb, said Cape Town and South Africa were perfectly positioned to reap the benefits of remote working.
‘In the two years since the pandemic began, a new world of travel has emerged in which many workers are untethered to an office. Together with Cape Town Tourism we want to make it easier for people to enjoy the newfound flexibility to work and travel, and help local communities capture the benefits of tourism.’