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Business Observer Friday, Jan. 19, 2018 8 months ago

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Airbnb hosts catering to tourist reap mega millions in earnings.

Homeowners and landlords who turned properties into mini-hotels in Florida in 2017 through Airbnb earned a combined $450 million in supplemental income last year, states a new report from the online hospitality marketplace.

Those Airbnb hosts welcomed some 2.7 million guests to the Sunshine State last year, up 75% over 2016. There are now nearly 40,000 Floridians who share their homes or vacation rentals through Airbnb, the report adds. Each host typically earns about $6,700 annually.

On a county-by-county basis, Miami-Dade Airbnb hosts led the state, with 667,200 Airbnb guest arrivals in 2017, which led to $134.6 million in host income, the report shows. Osceola County, which includes Orlando, had 358,400 Airbnb guests in 2017. That led to $39.6 million in income. Broward County had 239,600 Airbnb guests in 2017, which led to $45.7 million in income. Pinellas County ranked No. 5 in the state in 2017 income generated from Airbnb stays, according to the report, with $24.5 million on 140,200 guests.

“We are proud to contribute to Florida's record-setting tourism by opening up the state to new segments of visitors,” says Jennifer Frankenstein-Harris, president of the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association, in the release.

Airbnb's team of lobbyists also point out the “vacation rental community is also generating new public revenues that benefit the state and dozens of local communities through tax agreements,” according to the release. The tax issue has been a contentious debate, with some hotel owners saying Airbnb hosts who don't collect taxes have an unfair hospitality advantage.

Airbnb is currently authorized to collect and pay the state sales tax on all bookings in Florida. It also has tax collection agreements in 39 counties, including six it added in 2017. Among the newest six are Hillsborough, Polk and Sarasota counties.

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