Airbnb hosts in Maine earned $66 million in 2018 – a 53 percent increase over the previous year – as the online home-sharing platform continues to grow in the state.

Total host earnings were up $23 million from 2017, according to figures released by the company Monday.

Roughly 425,000 visitors to Maine stayed in an Airbnb- hosted property in 2018, a 50 percent bump from the previous year and more than double the number of people who used the service two years ago.

“I think what this data shows is that Airbnb is becoming increasingly more popular all over the state,” said company spokeswoman Liz DeBold Fusco.

The San Francisco company started in 2008 as a way for people to rent rooms in their home or apartment to guests for short stays. It has since grown into a global company valued at more than $30 billion. Prospective guests can still find a spare room to rent, but are more likely searching the site for entire homes and apartments to rent as an alternative to hotels or resorts.

Nationwide data for Airbnb guests and earnings were unavailable, DeBold Fusco said. In Vermont, the only other New England state the company would release data for, hosts earned $48.5 million from 341,300 guests in 2018.

Amid explosive growth, Airbnb and similar online short-term rental services faced intense criticism for taking up needed affordable housing and diluting neighborhood character. Attempts to regulate short-term rentals have sparked protracted battles between supporters and opponents in some Maine communities including Portland and South Portland, two of the most popular Airbnb destinations.

Despite criticism, the ranks of Maine hosts proliferated in 2018 alongside guests and revenue. More than 6,200 Mainers hosted on the platform this year, about 11/2 times the number of hosts two years ago.

“Families are recognizing they can make a little extra money by opening their doors to guests and introducing people to the state that they might not otherwise visit,” DeBold Fusco said.

Average revenue per host was the only metric that didn’t increase last year, according to the company. On average, hosts made $6,900 in 2018, the same as the year before. The number likely stayed flat as new hosts got into the market, DeBold Fusco said.

Every one of Maine’s 16 counties attracted guests to Airbnb rentals last year, according to a breakdown from the company.

Cumberland County was top of the list, drawing 164,700 guests and $23.6 million in revenue, more than a third of the state total.

Around 65,700 visitors stayed at rentals and earned hosts $11.5 million in York County, an area known for its beaches and seacoast. In Hancock County, home to tourist hotspots Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park, Airbnb hosts made $12.1 million from 63,100 guests.

Aroostook County had the fewest guests and earnings – 2,300 people stayed there in 2018 earning hosts $288,900.

Based on the 3 percent service fee Airbnb charges hosts, the company would have earned at least $2 million in Maine last year.

Despite annual surging growth, Airbnb is still a tiny part of Maine’s hospitality industry. Total host revenue accounted for 7 percent of $925 million of Maine’s lodging revenue in the first nine months of 2018.

 


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