After a contentious year locally for home-sharing platform Airbnb, Miami-Dade County still came out on top as the most popular county for the platform in Florida.
About 667,200 travelers who visited Miami-Dade in 2017 stayed at Airbnb rentals, the platform said, constituting the highest figure in the state. The 10,000 Miami-Dade hosts, who rent either a room in their home or their entire property on the Airbnb site, earned a combined $134.6 million this year.
And while it may not be surprising that Miami-Dade, the state’s most populous county with nearly 2.7 million residents and one of the largest tourism hubs in Florida, was the state’s biggest Airbnb magnet, it is notable in a year like 2017. This past year, two prominent mayors, Miami Beach’s Philip Levine and Miami’s Tomás Regalado — both now out of office — waged battles with Airbnb, trying to stifle its growth with large fines or by attempting to impose new regulations.
The mayors argued that Airbnb and similar platforms harm neighborhoods by attracting strangers who could affect the quality of life in local communities.
$134.6 million Amount Airbnb hosts in Miami-Dade made in 2017
But many local residents took to the idea of earning some cash on the side by listing rentals, helping the platform grow locally — and at a disproportionate rate. Hosts in Miami-Dade County earned nearly three times what hosts in the next-highest grossing county, Broward, made in 2017, where aggregate earnings were $45.7 million.
Broward saw 239,600 Airbnb arrivals in 2017, behind Miami-Dade and Osceola County, which received 358,400 visitors through Airbnb.
Overall, the state of Florida saw massive Airbnb growth, too.
The state had 2.7 million guests in Airbnb rentals, an increase of 75 percent over 2016. Statewide, hosts made a combined $450 million.
Still, that only accounts for just over 2 percent of Gov. Rick Scott’s goal of 120 million visitors to Florida in 2017. Final numbers for the year have not yet been released, but as of the third quarter of 2017, Florida had seen about 88 million visitors, according to Visit Florida, the state’s marketing arm. About 112 million visitors came to Florida in 2016.
Nevertheless, Airbnb’s reach in Florida is expanding — fast. Whereas the state has typically ranked in the top five in the nation for Airbnb arrivals in recent years, it now ranks second, behind only California.
Florida is now home to 40,000 hosts, who earned an average of $6,700 this year from renting on Airbnb.
Florida is now the No. 2 state in the country for Airbnb, behind California.
So far, Airbnb has weathered the wave of opposition that rose in Miami-Dade County.
In 2016, Miami Beach imposed $20,000 fines, the nation’s highest, on hosts in most parts of the city. Then earlier this year, Regalado proposed a partial ban on short-term rentals that was ultimately struck down by the courts. And in the fall, Miami-Dade County finally passed a bevy of regulations that allow residents in unincorporated Miami-Dade to rent short-term — as long as they abide by the new rules.
The fierce opposition was also met with other regulations that made it simpler for the platform to operate locally. In April, Miami-Dade and Broward both forged tax deals with Airbnb, a win for the platform in two of its busiest counties. The vacation rental site now has tax agreements in place in 39 Florida counties, allowing it to collect and remit local bed taxes, and simplifying the process for hosts.
“We are proud to contribute to Florida’s record-setting tourism by opening up the state to new segments of visitors,” said Jennifer Frankenstein-Harris, president of the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association, via a release. “We are committed to partnering with the Governor and lawmakers to further infuse Florida’s economy with additional revenue and elevate Florida’s status as a global hub for family-friendly tourism.”