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Airbnb reports 16,000 Florida homes rented for 750K visitors

The home-sharing tourism company Airbnb reported Tuesday morning that its service arranged for 754,000 visitors to stay in 16,100 private homes in Florida in 2015.

The most popular place for the home-based lodging program was the Miami-Fort Lauderdale market, which accounted for almost half of all the private homes participating and more than half of the visitors.

Airbnb is an eight-year-old app-based, home-sharing service that connects visitors with people who have homes or rooms available for rent by the night.

The company’s report says its Florida business grew 149 percent, which means in 2014 the company had only about 303,000 visitors staying in Airbnb host homes in the Sunshine State. The 754,000 visitors who arranged lodging through Airbnb last year still was a relatively small part of Florida’s tourism and visitors market, which saw 105 million visitors statewide in 2015, according to VISIT FLORIDA.

Worldwide, Airbnb claims more than 2 million hosts and 60 million visitors using the service.

The Miami-Fort Lauderdale market saw 7,910 private homes host 408,800 visitors through Airbnb in 2015. That market, however, already was Airbnb’s most established, and saw the least amount of growth in 2015.

Orlando was the next-busiest Florida market, where 2,550 private homes hosted 154,900 visitors. Tampa-St. Petersburg-Sarasota had 2,300 host homes participating, lodging 82,400 visitors. No other Florida market had even half that level of Airbnb business.

The fastest growth for Airbnb, however, was in Florida’s panhandle, where business more than tripled in places such as Pensacola, Tallahassee and Panama City.

The report also indicated the average host was able to rent out rooms or homes for 41 nights in 2015, earning an average of $7,200 for the year.

As with app-based ridesharing services, there is some regulatory tension and blowback from traditional lodging companies. Currently, the Florida Division of Hotels and Restaurants does not license or regulate airbnb.com. However, the division retains jurisdiction over licensed establishments utilizing Airbnb services. Whether an individual home host applies for a lodging license and complies with state standards, is generally considered on a case-by-case basis.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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