Airbnb bookings in rural Maine surge to $95M in 2021

By Lori Valigra, Bangor Daily News Staff

More tourists headed away from cities and into Maine’s less explored areas during the COVID-19 pandemic, bumping up host earnings to $13,000 on average in 2021, the online booking service said.

That totals more than $95 million in Maine’s 12 rural counties, up from $67 million in 2018, it said. Airbnb used U.S. Census Bureau definitions to determine what constitutes a rural area. 

The trend is spreading across the nation. Airbnb hosts in rural U.S. counties earned more than $3.5 billion in 2021, up from $316 million in 2018. The nights U.S. guests stayed increased 110 percent in 2021 compared with 2018. More than 1,300 U.S. towns had their first Airbnb bookings in 2021.

In Maine, Hancock County led host earnings with more than $37 million in 2021. That is not surprising given it is home to Acadia National Park and the tourism mecca of Bar Harbor.

Oxford County, home to an annual September fair and a casino, drew in the second-highest amount for its Airbnb hosts, $12.5 million. Lincoln County followed with $8.3 million, Knox County with $7.3 million and Franklin and Waldo counties with $6 million each. 

Kennebec, Sagadahoc, Washington and Piscataquis counties were in the $3 million range, followed by Somerset County at $2.3 million and Aroostook County at $1.4 million. 

Airbnb said it did not have separate host earnings for the more urban counties of Androscoggin, Cumberland, Penobscot and York.

Maine ranked 33rd among the 50 states in total host income from Airbnbs in rural areas in 2021, a strong showing from a state that ranks only 42nd in population among states.

It led the 13 states the Census Bureau categorizes as rural in Airbnb host earnings in 2016, ahead of Vermont and New Hampshire. However, Vermont jumped ahead of Maine in 2021 with $126 million in earnings, with New Hampshire behind at $79 million.

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