GH ranks in top 15 for Airbnb service

Alex Doty • Dec 28, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Short-term rentals are alive and well in Northwest Ottawa County.

Airbnb recently announced figures for in-state stays using its service over the the past year, and both Grand Haven and Spring Lake rank among Michigan’s top 30 communities.

According to Airbnb, there were a combined 7,150 guest arrivals in 2017 in the two communities — 4,700 in Grand Haven and 2,450 in Spring Lake. This resulted in just over $1 million in supplemental income combined for both communities, the report notes.

Marci Cisneros, executive director of the Grand Haven Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, said tourism is a strong contributor to the local and regional economy — which includes Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Ferrysburg, Coopersville, Allendale and West Olive. She noted that the lodging component of tourism plays an important role in economic impact and the overall visitor experience.

“We are fortunate we have a great mix of overnight options in our area that include hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, resorts, lodges, and vacation homes,” Cisneros said. “It is, in part, due to this diversity in lodging that makes our area a sought-after destination and, in many cases, turning visitors into residents. We understand that vacation rental properties and the management of those properties have been on the upswing for the last 10 years or so — a lodging trend that continues to evolve based on visitor interests and needs.”

According to the Airbnb report, there are now nearly 6,000 Michigan hosts who share their homes via the website, typically earning about $6,300 annually in supplemental income.

Even though tourism officials say they’ve seen an increase in the vacation rental sector, they note that this type of stay experience isn’t for all travelers, with some wanting more traditional experiences.

”Having a strong, traditional lodging base is key for a thriving, well-rounded tourism community like the Grand Haven area,” Cisneros said. “Many area hotels and motels have been reinvesting in their properties. They too are staying competitive and keeping on track with evolving needs and interests of the marketplace.”

Statewide, there were 364,000 guest arrivals across Michigan in 2017, resulting in $48 million in supplemental income, reports Airbnb.

In addition to the new income going into the pockets of Michigan that Airbnb hosts, the report notes that the state is also generating new revenue through a historic tax agreement announced in June that allows Airbnb to collect and remit the state’s use tax on behalf of its hosts. That agreement delivered $1 million in taxes to the state’s coffers in its first three months.

The topic of short-term rentals has been a hot-button issue in local communities over the past year. The cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg and Spring Lake Township have been discussing and implementing regulations regarding short-term rental units. 

The state Legislature is also considering several bills regarding short-term rentals. If approved, these bills would limit a local municipality’s ability to regulate short-term rentals.

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