The fact that the Smoky Mountains are among the nation’s most popular vacation destinations, has, quite naturally, helped the region’s hospitality industry to flourish. The area’s Airbnb network has also prospered due to that popularity.
According to a survey commissioned by Airbnb last year, Sevierville was one of the top wish-listed destinations around the globe for Airbnbs. More than half of the people who had Sevierville at the top of their wanderlust list reported that they were most likely to seek out its signature unique landscapes when visiting.
The Airbnb website lists the Smoky Mountains at number six on its list of the nation’s most visited family destinations, just behind Maui, Hawaii and just ahead of South Florida’s Atlantic Coast.
“The Smoky Mountains are a top family destination this spring, in part because it provides access to outdoor activities and other child-friendly amusements,” said Liz Fusco, Communications Lead for North America at Airbnb. She said that the lure of the mountains has created a myriad of opportunities for rural communities across Tennessee.
Fusco cited statistics that stated that in 2021 alone, over 1,600 Airbnb hosts in rural counties across Tennessee earned a total of approximately $27 million. Of those, new hosts in the state earned approximately $60 million in 2021. What’s more, the typical Airbnb host in rural Tennessee earned over $10,500 in 2021. That compares to average annual earnings of $9,300 nationwide.
The demographic breakdown provides some interesting statistics as well. “Roughly 66 percent of Airbnb hosts who have reported their gender in rural Tennessee are women,” Fusco said. “In addition, 30 percent of Airbnb hosts in rural Tennessee have reported that they are over the age of 60.”
The numbers are even more impressive when viewed over the course of the past decade. Fusco said that between 2010 and September 2021, Airbnb hosts across Tennessee earned a total of $1.4 billion.
The financial benefit to area economies is certainly substantial. Fisco pointed to a study by Oxford Economics that surveyed 30 destinations nationwide. It noted that in 2019, Airbnb guest spending supported more than 300,000 jobs, including tens of thousands of jobs in restaurants and retail that were hit hard by the pandemic.
“Airbnb has collected and remitted more than $4 billion in tourism taxes around the world, including $520 million in U.S. communities from May through August 2016,” she said. She added that the study found that every 1,000 Airbnb guests who visited Nashville supported seven jobs in that city.
Airbnb can claim some organic origins well in keeping with East Tennessee’s distinct DIY attitude. The concept was born in 2007 when two hosts put air mattresses on the living room floor of their San Francisco home in hopes of earning extra income to pay their rent. Since then, Airbnb’s popularity has grown substantially. The network now includes some four million hosts who have welcomed more than a billion guests in almost every country throughout the globe.
The concept is easy to understand. An Airbnb offers the amenities, convenience, flexibility and comfort of staying in a real home during a visit to a vacation destination. For hosts, the benefits are also obvious.
Fisco said that a host’s annual income can represent nearly an extra month and a half of pay for the median U.S. household.
“It’s more than most Americans received in government-provided stimulus payments,” she said. “According to a 2021 survey of our global host community, because of the pandemic, one third of homes hosts personally suffered a pay cut or lost work hours in 2020, or lived with someone who did. Fourteen percent of them or someone in their household lost their job or got laid off.”She said that to date, hosts around the world have earned more than $150 billion welcoming guests through the Airbnb platform, including earnings of more than $54 billion in the U.S. alone.
“Hosting offers people a way to take what is typically one of their biggest expenses — their home — and use it to make ends meet, earn extra spending money, or start a business,” Fusco said. “As the labor market continues to undergo rapid change and traditional employment gets reshaped, Airbnb can give many an opportunity to supplement their income that helps keep or launch them into the middle class.”
According to Fusco, the advantages for travelers have made Airbnb a top choice when it comes to accommodations.
“Last year, Airbnb hit a major milestone,” Fusco said. “We saw one billion arrivals at host listings. What was once seen as an alternative way to travel is now truly mainstream and has redefined the travel industry over the past decade. It appeals to a wide range of guests with differing needs.”
Those looking for more information on either hosting or finding an airbnb for a vacation stay, are advised to go to news.airbnb.com.
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