This Hill Country hot spot cashes in with $40 million in Airbnb income

It really pays to be an Airbnb host in the Hill Country hot spot of Fredericksburg.

Data released by Airbnb shows that among rural counties in Texas, Airbnb hosts in Gillespie County — anchored by Fredericksburg — hauled in $40 million last year. That, by far, was the biggest Airbnb income total for any rural county in Texas. In fact, Gillespie County represented a little over one-third of the roughly $115 million earned in 2021 by rural Airbnb hosts in the Lone Star State.

The Fredericksburg area is home to hundreds of short-term rental properties. An ordinance tightening regulation of short-term rentals in Fredericksburg took effect April 1. The crackdown on these rental properties has divided local residents, with some property owners pushing back against further regulation and some residents complaining about the disruption caused by short-term renters.

Short-term rentals (STRs) “are needed in Fredericksburg,” Aaron Beeman, 2022 president of the Central Hill Country Board of Realtors, told Texas Realtor magazine ahead of passage of the ordinance. “We have the wineries and the weddings and all of these industries that require lodging. If you start removing STRs, that changes everything.”

In 2021, Gillespie County racked up $241.1 million in direct travel spending, up 84.3 percent from 2020 and 88.2 percent from 2019, according to the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau.

The bureau says tourism in Fredericksburg has benefited from the rise of work-from-anywhere arrangements.

“During the pandemic, visitors from across the nation and the state of Texas were encouraged [by the bureau] to work from Fredericksburg, and experience the town’s great restaurants, attractions, and outdoor adventures,” the bureau says in a report.

Airbnb hosts in 20 other rural counties earned at $1 million last year:

Brewster, $8 million
Burnet, $6 million
Llano, $6 million
Henderson, $5 million
Kerr, $4.5 million
Blanco, $3 million
Uvalde, $3 million
Fayette, $2 million
Washington, $2 million
Calhoun, $1.5 million
Matagorda, $1.5 million
Palo Pinto, $1.5 million
Polk, $1.5 million
Wood, $1.5 million
Angelina, $1 million
Bosque, $1 million
Real, $1 million
San Jacinto, $1 million
Val Verde, $1 million
Van Zandt, $1 million

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