The cash was brought in by more than 3.5 million visitors from around the world who booked their accommodation via the online service, 2 million of whom visited South Africa alone.
The report was launched by Airbnb at a 3-day travel summit organised by the company that concluded in Cape Town, South Africa on Thursday.
Statistics show that typical host earnings in 2017 were valued at $1,900 in South Africa, $1,200 in Morocco and $920 in Kenya.
Countries where the service is projecting massive growth in the coming years in Africa, include Ghana, Nigeria and Mozambique.
The Economic Impact Study released by Airbnb also shows that 66% of those who used the online platform did so, because they wanted to ‘live like a local’.
Airbnb’s Global Head of Public Policy and Public Affairs Chris Lehane said: “(the) report shows how Airbnb’s community model creates healthy tourism by benefiting the hosts who share their homes and passions, the guests who are seeking authentic cultural experiences, and the local residents whose cultures, experiences and economies are celebrated and supported.”
“We look forward to working with all stakeholders across South Africa and beyond to see how we can continue to spread tourism benefits to more people and communities,” he added.
In South Africa, 65% of Airbnb hosts are women, while 80% of hosts engage in eco-friendly practices.
The summit kicked off a day after the Tanzanian government gave a 50 day window for operators like those signed up with Airbnb to register or face arrest.
Rosada Musoma, assistant director of licensing and control in the Ministry of Tourism said those who do not register will be arrested.
“There are many individuals who are operating these facilities… We want them to be recognised officially by the government and pay required license fees,” said Musoma.
Meanwhile 5% of the hosts surveyed in South Africa say they ventured into the Airbnb space to protect their homes from foreclosure.
The Travel Summit is part of a $1 million investment by Airbnb to boost community-led tourism projects in Africa. The aim of the summit is to discuss how technology can be used to help more people benefit from tourism.
Aside from the hosts, the surrounding community also benefits from the tourist visits. In 2017, it is estimated that guest activity supported over 22,000 jobs in South Africa with a projected income of roughly $678 million.
The $1m has also been used to create the Airbnb Africa Academy, in partnership with Open Africa and the Social Enterprise Academy. Since the start of 2018, the Academy has reached out to rural communities in the Gauteng and Western Cape provinces, to show them how they could benefit from tourism.
According to Lindiwe from Soweto, who attended one of the Academy sessions: “We need to educate people, and I’m hoping that by doing this experience . . . the youth that are unemployed can realize that we have it within ourselves. You can make it.”