Published on : Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Ithaca Airbnb hosted a record number of Airbnb guests on Saturday, May 25, with about 3,000 visitors staying in rooms booked through the short-term rental platform. That’s about 1,200 more than during Ithaca College’s commencement last weekend and 300 more than during Cornell’s commencement last year.
Commencement weekends are always among the busiest of the year for tourism. Home stay bookings boom hotels are nearly at capacity too. Growth in the smaller short-term sector has outpaced traditional hotel growth, though.
According to Nick Helmholdt, principal planner and tourism program director for Tompkins County, there are about 2,300 rooms registered with the county for overnight rentals. That tally includes large, chain hotels and smaller inns and bed and breakfasts.
Registered properties with more than 10 rooms pay a 5 per cent room tax to the county while owner-operated properties with 10 or fewer rooms pay 3 per cent. Airbnb listings generally do not register with the county, because the company reached an agreement with the county in 2016 to collect the 3 per cent room tax from all its hosts. A search on the Airbnb site turns up about 300 Ithaca listings.
Since conventional hotel rooms still far outnumber Airbnb listings in the county, most county revenue comes from properties in the 5 per cent tax bracket. Helmholdt said revenue in the 3 per cent category is growing at a faster rate – suggesting the ratio between traditional and home stay rentals is shifting.