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With Regulations Looming, Airbnb Says It Had A Record Year In Mass.

The Airbnb website. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)MoreCloseclosemore
The Airbnb website. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Airbnb says it has had a record year in Massachusetts. The announcement comes less than two weeks after state regulations on short-term rentals were signed into law.

There were 1.2 million people who stayed in Airbnb rentals in Massachusetts in 2018, and hosts in the state earned over $256 million, according to Airbnb.

That's an increase from 2017 — when 893,200 visitors stayed in Airbnb rentals in Massachusetts hosts earned over $193 million.

There are now over 15,700 Airbnb hosts in the state who typically earn $7,800 annually, according to the company. Andrew Kalloch, the head of public policy for Airbnb in Massachusetts, said the "record numbers" show that Airbnb is an "economic engine" in Massachusetts.

"We see millions of guests across the country and around the world who want to come to Massachusetts and spend time in different parts of the state coming to Airbnb as a first option and seeing the value that home-sharing can provide to them," Kalloch said in a phone interview.

Greater Boston and the Cape and Islands had the most Airbnb visitors in the state in 2018. There were 465,500 visitors in Suffolk County, 230,100 visitors in Middlesex Country and 166,300 visitors in Barnstable County.

The newly released figures from Airbnb come as state regulations are on the horizon for short-term rental companies. The new state law goes into effect July 1. The bill will apply a 5.7 percent tax to short-term housing rentals (the same lodging tax currently applied to hotels), and create a statewide registry of such rentals. Cities and towns can also impose additional regulations — including more taxes or outright bans — under the law. Boston has already implemented some of its own regulations.

Airbnb, which is suing Boston over some of its rules, has said the state bill will "impose significant burdens" on its hosts. Kalloch said the company is concerned about the law and will work with lawmakers as they implement the new rules.

"We're not looking for a fight. We're looking to protect our hosts," Kalloch said. "We're looking to preserve the economic opportunities that short-term rentals create in Massachusetts, and we're going to do that as efficiently and effectively a way as we can."

Lawmakers previously estimated that the state bill would generate about $25 million in tax revenue. Just this past summer, Airbnb figures showed the state could have taken in almost $2.3 million in tax revenue from rentals on the Cape and Islands alone.

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Zeninjor Enwemeka Twitter Reporter
Zeninjor Enwemeka is a reporter who covers business, tech and culture as part of WBUR's Bostonomix team, which focuses on the innovation economy.

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