Despite the city’s dire water crisis, Cape Town has made the cut as a launch city for Airbnb Plus — a high-end segment of the online accommodation platform that’s akin to having a blue tick on Twitter.

Last month, Airbnb named Cape Town among the 13 cities globally that would pioneer the product.

Airbnb Plus is essentially a “new tier” of homes on the platform that have been verified “for quality and comfort”, according to the US company’s country manager for SA, Velma Corcoran.

“Airbnb Plus was inspired by some of Airbnb’s best hosts and homes — and SA has many of those,” Corcoran tells the Financial Mail.

A quick search on the Airbnb platform brings up a handful of Plus homes in Cape Town, including a three-bedroom apartment at the V&A Waterfront that goes for R11,495 a night.

This is not the first time the Mother City has been given launch-city status by the San Francisco-based firm. In 2016, Cape Town was one of 12 cities to introduce Airbnb’s “experiences” product — whereby hosts bundle accommodation together with experiences.

Many holiday homes and villas in Cape Town and Johannesburg “are renowned the world over”, Corcoran adds. Some unique properties in SA are tree-houses in Mpumalanga and houseboats in Knysna.

Still, the drought in Cape Town poses a serious threat to local tourism. Though reliable statistics have yet to be released, the severity of water restrictions in the city is undoubtedly weighing on the tourism sector.

“There’s no doubt that the knock-on effect of the water conservation crossroads we find ourselves in has had an impact on tourism,” Cape Town Tourism CEO Enver Duminy said last month.

Corcoran says Airbnb is “closely monitoring” the situation in Cape Town and the company has been in “continuous contact” with hosts and officials.

According to the company, Airbnb hosts have earned US$41bn from about 300m visits over the past 10 years. In Africa, about 100,000 homes are listed on the platform. Guests have checked in about 2m times.

This article was first published by Financial Mail on 16 March 2018