SOUTHEASTERN, N.C. — While Wilmington’s City Council is considering banning short-term rentals in town, the area’s largest short-term rental service, Airbnb, has facilitated millions of dollars in the region.
Airbnb’s year-end numbers show hosts in New Hanover County brought in $12.8 million in 2018. That’s the third-highest host earnings in the state, behind only the Asheville and Charlotte metropolitan areas.
In Brunswick County, approximately 30,000 guests visited, earning hosts $4.9 million. Approximately 85,000 guests used Airbnb in New Hanover County, while 6,900 used the service in Pender County, earning hosts $1.1 million.
Hosts in the Cape Fear region as a whole were given a total income boost of $18.8 million, counting New Hanover, Pender and Brunswick Counties. According to an Airbnb press release, hosts in the Wilmington-area typically earn $10,000 in supplemental annual income.
Though critics of short-term rentals have cited competition with hotels, Airbnb maintains its service complements, rather than competes with the industry. Though the southeastern region of the state showed a 40 percent increase in occupancy rates, a recent lodging report attributed this specific growth to Hurricane Florence recovery efforts.
Still, the report shows occupancy and room revenues in the state have steadily increased in recent years.
“This suggests that Airbnb is opening up the region to a new slice of prospective tourists by catering to travelers less able to afford hotels, those who desire to stay in neighborhoods or cities that lack hotels, and families who prefer to be together under one roof,” Airbnb’s release states.