Florida and Airbnb are making an excellent pair, as a new report shows users of the global vacation rental website had a significant role in the state’s record-setting tourism year.
In 2017, nearly 40,000 Florida Airbnb hosts earned a combined $450 million from approximately 2.7 million guests, according to company figures released Thursday. That is a 75 percent increase over the previous year, with each host earning an estimated average of $6,700 annually.
In addition to its regular Florida tourism revenue, Airbnb also played a vital role in the aftermath of September’s Hurricane Irma, as many hosts offered their properties at no charge to evacuees of the storm as part of the company’s Disaster Sponsor Program.
The report’s statewide data suggests the vacation rental community complements — not harms — the state’s hotel industry with strong growth in occupancy rates, prices and revenue throughout 2017. This also indicates the use of vacation rental websites such as Airbnb actually opens Florida to a broader range of tourists, instead of restricting competition, as some in the hotel industry argue.
For example, Airbnb extends options for the nontraditional traveler, such as visitors unable to afford higher-end hotels or those families preferring an affordable vacation, wanting to stay together under one roof.
“We are proud to contribute to Florida’s record-setting tourism by opening up the state to new segments of visitors,” said Jennifer Frankenstein-Harris, President of the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association (FVRMA). “We are committed to partnering with the Governor and lawmakers to further infuse Florida’s economy with additional revenue and elevate Florida’s status as a global hub for family-friendly tourism.”
Not only do Airbnb hosts enjoy additional personal income renting everything from apartments and homes to villas and tree houses, but the overall expansion of the state’s short-term rental industry generates more money for both the state and dozens of communities where the company has tax agreements.
While Airbnb pays state sales tax on all Florida bookings, it also collects and pays local bed taxes in 39 of the Sunshine State’s 67 counties. This year, the company secured new tax arrangements with Miami-Dade, Broward, Sarasota, Polk, Hillsborough and Leon counties.
Florida’s top Airbnb county for 2017 was Miami-Dade, with more than 667,000 hosts generating $134.6 million, followed by Osceola with $39.6 million from 358,000 rental hosts.
As well as vacation rentals, Airbnb in 2017 developed Experiences, a program that gives users exclusive access to communities and their unique activities as recommended by locals.