Rural Texas experiencing explosive Airbnb growth

Airbnb, the world’s leading community-driven hospitality company, announced today that Texans in rural counties earned $20.6 million in supplemental income while welcoming 169,000 guests through Airbnb over the past 12 months, representing a remarkable 93% rate of year-over-year growth.

For this report, Airbnb compiled data for the 177 Texas counties officially designated as “rural” by the Texas Department of Agriculture. That map can be found here and at the bottom.

The 93% growth rate of Airbnb guests to state-designated rural Texas 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 the Lone Star State, not just the big cities.

This report comes on the heels of new data demonstrating that the Texas hotel industry is booming, with a third-party economic study conducted for the Governor’s office reporting record rates of hotel development, total hotel rooms available, hotel room nights sold, hotel occupancy rate, and hotel room revenue. Yet per that same report, ⅔ of Texas hotel rooms and ¾ of Texas hotel room revenue are centralized in the four metro areas of Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston. This leaves large swaths of rural Texas with very limited traditional lodging options — and sometimes none at all.

As such, home sharing allows 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, Bosque County is home to just two small 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 224% year-over-year guest growth over the past year. Similarly, Llano County — also home to just two hotels according to Hotels.com — is one of the most popular Texas destinations for Airbnb guests. Local homeowners helped catalyze the local economy by hosting 9,500 guests in the past year to the county, earning $1.31 million in supplemental income in the process.

“I was pleased to visit the Airbnb headquarters in San Francisco recently and meet with their leadership,” said George P. Bush, Texas Land Commissioner. “I am impressed with their entrepreneurial vision and look forward to finding ways for the Texas General Land Office to leverage their technologies.  As the state officer who oversees 13 million acres of rural Texas land, I am grateful for Airbnb’s commitment to bringing economic opportunity to rural Texas in a new and innovative way. In the future, I will be exploring ways to further Airbnb’s involvement with disaster relief. The Texas General Land Office is overseeing the largest recovery program in our nation’s history and we are continuing to explore ways to integrate Airbnb in our short term recovery efforts.”

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
Gillespie 49,000 116% 230
Brewster 19,200 52% 115
Presidio 9,500 42% 75
Llano 9,500 58% 160
Kerr 9,100 101% 100

 

Designated Rural Counties Where Combined Host Income Exceeded $100,000

*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
Blanco 6,900 12% 70
Burnet 5,600 84% 80
Henderson 4,700 87% 70
Hood 3,900 121% 50
Uvalde 3,600 39% 40
Washington 3,300 117% 80
Fayette 3,400 91% 70
Van Zandt 2,300 173% 50
Wood 2,300 143% 50
Hill 2,100 93% 20
Real 2,000 68% 10
Nacogdoches 1,900 100% 25
Matagorda 1,500 134% 40
Somervell 1,500 137% 15
Bosque 1,100 224% 20
Polk 1,200 135% 35
Jeff Davis 1,000 137% 15
Anderson 1,000 64% 20
Palo Pinto 900 149% 25
Harrison 800 227% 20

 

Additionally, in dozens of Texas counties that are technically state-designated as urban, the majority of Airbnb hosts live in areas that are census-designated as rural tracts. For example, Bandera County is state-designated as urban, but all 65 homeowners that host through Airbnb happen to live in census-designated rural tracts.

Below are the urban counties where 50% or more of the Airbnb hosts live in census-designated rural tracts (please note that data for these counties does not figure into the $20.6 million or 169,000 guest numbers).

  • Archer
  • Atascosa
  • Austin (80% of the 15 active Airbnb hosts in Austin County live in census-designated rural tracts)
  • Bandera (100% of the 65 active Airbnb hosts in Bandera County live in census-designated rural tracts)
  • Bastrop
  • Burleson (90% of the 20 active Airbnb hosts in Burleson County live in census-designated rural tracts)
  • Caldwell
  • Calhoun (90% of the 25 active Airbnb hosts in Calhoun County live in census-designated rural tracts)
  • Callahan
  • Carson
  • Chambers
  • Comal (180 Comal County residents in census-designated rural tracts are active Airbnb hosts)
  • Coryell
  • Delta
  • Grayson (78% of the 70 active Airbnb hosts in Grayson County live in census-designated rural tracts)
  • Hays (290 Hays County residents in census-designated rural tracts are active Airbnb hosts)
  • Hunt
  • Irion
  • Jones
  • Kaufman
  • Liberty
  • Kendall
  • Medina
  • Parker (70% of the 50 active Airbnb hosts in Parker County live in census-designated rural tracts)
  • Randall
  • Robertson
  • Rusk
  • San Jacinto (100% of the 15 active Airbnb hosts in San Jacinto County live in census-designated rural tracts)
  • Waller
  • Wilson
  • Wise
  • Hardin (90% of the 10 active Airbnb hosts in Hardin County live in census-designated tracts)
  • Upshur

Airbnb recently launched an Office of Healthy Tourism, with a mission to support tourism in Texas and beyond that is local, authentic, diverse, inclusive and sustainable. The company recently released a report highlighting the #1 most wish-listed listings in the top 50 cities in Texas— a list that included cities like Fredericksburg, Terlingua, Alpine, Marfa and Kerrville — cities located in 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. In April 2017, Airbnb announced a tax agreement with the Texas Comptroller’s Office, authorizing the home sharing platform to automatically collect the 6% state hotel occupancy tax on behalf of its host community and remit the revenue directly to the state. Last July, Airbnb announced that it delivered $15.3 million in home sharing and short-term rental tax revenue on behalf of its Texas hosts in the first year of the agreement, nearly doubling initial projections.