Rural Florida experiencing explosive Airbnb growth

Airbnb, the Sunshine State’s leading community-driven hospitality company, announced today that Floridians in rural counties earned $24.7 million in supplemental income while welcoming 125,000 guests through the Airbnb vacation rental platform over the past 12 months, representing a remarkable 110% rate of year-over-year growth.

For this report, Airbnb compiled data for the 32 Florida counties officially designated as “rural” by the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity. That map can be found here and at the bottom.

The 110% growth rate of Airbnb guests to state-designated rural Florida counties nearly doubles the growth rate to urban counties. The data is indicative of an increasing desire among travelers to get off the beaten path and experience all of Florida, not just the big cities or traditional vacation hubs.

This report comes on the heels of new data demonstrating that the Florida hotel industry is booming, reporting record rates of hotel development, total hotel rooms available, hotel room nights sold, hotel occupancy rate, and hotel room revenue. Yet the vast majority of Florida’s hotel inventory is centralized in the large metro areas and well-known beach towns. This leaves large swaths of rural Florida with very limited traditional lodging options — and sometimes none at all.

As such, home sharing has allowed homeowners in rural regions throughout the state to fill that void and earn valuable supplemental income while opening up their counties to tourism and the revenue that comes with it. For example, Wakulla County is home to just three hotels according to Hotels.com, yet the local Airbnb host community has helped the county take full economic advantage of its growing popularity with visitors, with 205% year-over-year guest growth over the past year as local hosts earned a combined $276,000 in income. Similarly, Gulf County — also home to just two hotels according to Hotels.com — is an increasingly popular destination for Airbnb guests. Local homeowners helped catalyze the local economy by hosting 4,700 guests in the past year to the county, earning over $1 million in supplemental income in the process.

“Delivering tourism — and the revenue that comes with it — to rural Northern Florida has been a longstanding goal,” said State Sen. Bill Montford, whose district includes 10 of the rural counties adjacent to Tallahassee. “When that tourism is delivering hundreds of thousands of dollars into the pockets of working-class Floridians in the process, that’s even better.”


“The agricultural communities I represent are hungry for economic development,” said State Rep. Ben Albritton, whose district includes the heart of DeSoto County and Hardee County. “Opening up these counties to people-powered tourism is putting valuable extra income into pockets of homeowners and hopefully will encourage more small businesses to invest in rural Florida.”

“Opening up these counties to people-powered tourism is putting valuable extra income into pockets of homeowners and hopefully will encourage more small businesses to invest in rural Florida.”


Below outlines the state-designated rural counties with the most economic activity over the past year.

Designated Rural Counties Where Combined Host Income Exceeded $1 Million

*From duration of August 1, 2017 – August 1, 2018

County Guest Arrivals Over Past 12 Months Year-Over-Year Growth in Guest Arrivals Active Hosts
Walton 70,000 116% 750
Flagler 14,000 95% 240
Nassau 10,200 98% 130
Franklin 6,000 76% 100
Gulf 4,700 110% 110

 

Designated Rural Counties Where Combined Host Income Exceeded $50,000

*From duration of August 1, 2017 – August 1, 2018

County Guest Arrivals Over Past 12 Months Year-Over-Year Growth in Guest Arrivals Active Hosts
Columbia 4,000 215% 40
Levy 3,800 84% 65
Highlands 2,800 149% 130
Wakulla 2,400 205% 45
Putnam 2,000 165% 55
Suwannee 2,000 91% 25
Taylor 1,100 32% 25
Gilchrist 650 27% 15
Jefferson 500 15% 15
Okeechobee 500 110% 30
Gadsden 350 39% 15

Additionally, in three counties that are technically state designated as urban, over 50% of the local Airbnb hosts live in areas that are census designated as rural tracts.

  • Citrus — 60% of the 190 active Airbnb hosts in Citrus County live in census-designated rural tracts
  • Hernando53% of the 150 active Airbnb hosts in Hernando County live in census-designated rural tracts
  • Marion54% of the 170 active Airbnb hosts in Marion County live in census-designated rural tracts

Airbnb recently launched an Office of Healthy Tourism, with a mission to support tourism in Florida and beyond that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable. The company recently released a report highlighting the #1 most wish-listed listings in every county in Florida county — including the 32 state-designated rural counties.

Opening up the state to increased tourism has a trickle down effect both in terms of guest spending at local small businesses and tax revenue to the state. Thanks to a 2015 tax agreement with the Florida Department of Revenue, Airbnb collects and remits the state sales tax on all Airbnb bookings in Florida, which delivered $33 million to the state in 2017. Airbnb also has tax agreements in place to collect the local county bed/tourist tax for 23 of the 28 state-designated rural counties that assess such taxes (Union, Lafayette, Calhoun and Liberty do not have county bed taxes).

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!