Homesharing helps strengthen our family tourism brand

Each year, Regina Champlin Igoe provides Christmas gifts to hundreds of underprivileged children through her non-profit organization, Make a Miracle. Through her foundation, Tarte’s Hearts, Aimee Tarte fosters compassion in children through acts of service, such as visiting veterans’ nursing homes.

Besides their shared commitment to community service, Regina and Aimee have another quality in common. By their own admission, they were never comfortable soliciting donations. Rather, they fund these incredible charities largely through revenue earned by sharing their Fort Lauderdale homes with visitors through Airbnb.

Regina and Aimee reflect a growing trend. In Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and Miramar Beach alone, more than 1,800 Airbnb hosts share an extra bedroom or their entire home when traveling for business or pleasure. In 2016, they welcomed over 96,000 visitors to Broward’s three largest home-sharing cities, while earning $20.6 million. This is valuable extra income often used to pay mortgages, settle student debt, or fund passion projects such as Make a Miracle or Tarte’s Hearts.

Home sharing helps our community expand its network to potential travelers whose budgets simply cannot support higher hotel rates. It also allows visitors to experience Broward in an authentic way like we do, while generating money for tourists and activating economies in neighborhoods that lack hotels.

Take Fort Lauderdale’s Flagler Village, which in just ten years has grown from an abandoned warehouse to an increasingly in-demand neighborhood known for its trendy restaurants and booming FATVillage arts district. Hotels are non-existent in Flagler, but its dozens of Airbnb listings are generating revenue from this new infusion of local tourism into its merchant community.

Of course, short-term rentals in Florida predate Airbnb’s founding in 2008 by decades. party” potential. It’s a concern we share at Airbnb, and we’re committed to addressing it head-on. We’ve implemented a Neighborhood Tool that provides community members with a direct line of communication with Airbnb to deal with loud listings, and we don’t hesitate to remove hosts who don’t meet our strict Community Standards.

Ultimately, the power of the Airbnb platform is that it motivates guests to blend into neighborhoods, belong anywhere, and live like locals. Our mission is to welcome visitors while maintaining the fabric that makes these communities so special. Our Airbnb hosts want to serve as steadfast partners in strengthening Broward’s family-friendly tourism brand.

The county and its municipalities can pursue several fair practices to better regulate the trend of home sharing. To improve compliance, Fort Lauderdale should consider significantly reducing its excessive short-term rental registration fee of $750. Although well-intentioned, this measure was first introduced with professional, full-time vacation rental owners in mind. In practice, it attracts part-time Airbnb hosts who typically only share their homes once a week and don’t even make $750 a year.

Additionally, we have engaged in ongoing and productive conversations with Broward County toward an agreement that would allow Airbnb to collect and remit the 5% resort tax on behalf of our hosts. This would make the process seamless and easy for our hosts and the county, while effectively unlocking millions in new annual tax revenue. Airbnb has such agreements with 32 Florida counties, and we hope to help bring this new revenue to all of South Florida, including Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach.

The home-sharing movement has already spurred community economic development while providing visitors with a real, albeit temporary, home. A collaborative partnership between Airbnb, our hosts, and policy makers will drive responsible tourism in line with Broward’s brand and values.

Tom Martinelli is the Policy Director of Airbnb Florida

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