Who knew? The home rental service Airbnb says a surprising number of people want to vacation in rural Texas, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
Airbnb says its home rental business has doubled in rural Texas communities in the past year, a far steeper growth rate than the company has seen in the state's big cities.
Growth in Airbnb listings in the 188 Texas counties officially designated a 'rural' by the Texas Department of Agriculture saw a 93% in Airbnb rentals in the past 12 months, which is twice are big as the growth in urban centers.
Airbnb links people who want to rent rooms in their home, or their entire home, to travelers.
The reasons for the rural growth are two fold.
First, many people visit friends or relatives in small towns where there are no hotels available.
Also, there has been an uptick in tourism to places like the Hill Country and the Big Bend, where the economics of hotels don't allow for much construction.
Fully three quarters of Texas hotel room revenue is collected in the state's four major metro areas, DFW, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston, meaning rural areas are not economically desirable places for hotel investment, especially rural areas which are away from major Interstate highways.
Airbnb says it allows people who live in rural areas to make extra money by renting rooms to tourists, and also supplements the lack of traditional hotel rooms in those small communities.
Airbnb stresses that it does not compete against traditional hotels, it in fact supplements current hotels by providing additional lodging opportunities in places where hotel construction is not economically feasible, and in providing extra capacity at busy times in urban areas, like during this year's NCAA Final Four in San Antonio.