Thursday, November 15, 2018
Business

Airbnb visitors to Florida surge 75 percent in 2017

If its latest guest numbers are any indication, Airbnb is here to stay. The California-based hospitality giant counted 2.7 million guests in Florida this year, a whopping 75 percent increase over last year’s guest pool, Airbnb said.

For the 40,000 Airbnb hosts in Florida, that came out to a combined $450 million earned over the year, according to figures released Thursday by Airbnb. Hosts typically make about $6,700 annually, the homesharing company said.

Pinellas County accounted for $24.5 million and 140,200 guests, while Hillsborough County made up $10.4 million with 78,700 guests.

Hillsborough is one of six counties in the state that inked tax agreements with Airbnb this year to collect and pay bed and sales taxes on bookings. Other counties include Polk, Sarasota, Miami-Dade, Broward and Leon.

But not everyone is likely to celebrate this expansion. Local bed and breakfasts took issue with Airbnb earlier this year, saying the mega company was unfairly pushing them out of the neighborhood and forcing some of them to shutter. Three St. Petersburg bed and breakfasts closed in the spring, while another was preparing to go up for sale.

Related coverage: Bed-and-breakfast owners closing their doors blame Airbnb, local government>

Airbnb, however, says their offerings complement the hotel industry, citing occupancy rate growth and revenue over the year.

"This suggests that vacation rentals on Airbnb and other platforms are opening up the state to a new demographic of tourists by catering to travelers who are less able to afford hotels," the company said in a release, referring to "those who desire to stay in neighborhoods or cities that lack hotels, and families who prefer to vacation together under one roof."

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