Airbnb is playing an increasing role in providing lodging for visitors and tourists in Oxford.
As a measure of that, San Francisco-based Airbnb Inc. said in a release on Monday that Oxford registered 5,700 guests and took in more than $1.1 million, during Ole Miss home games this fall.
The 2018 numbers are double what they were last year when they were 2,500 guests and $525,000 in revenue.
Jon Maynard, executive director of the Oxford-Lafayette Chamber of Commerce noted that this has been a down year for the Ole Miss football program, including no bowl game because of NCAA sanctions
Plus, the city was “penalized,” with four of the seven home games starting at 11 a.m. due to television network coverage in a down year for Ole Miss.
Maynard said early games work against stayovers.
The weekend of the South Carolina game was by far the biggest B-and-B draw, with 1,760 guests and $370,000 revenue, the largest influx of Airbnb guests to Oxford ever. More than 25 percent of the Airbnb guests were from the Palmetto State.
More than 43 percent of the Airbnb guests in Oxford were from Illinois for the Southern Illinois game.
The data also indicate that fans of the opposing teams are increasingly taking the opportunity to make the trip to Oxford and experience the city.
The city is proving “otherwise attractive” to visitors, he said.
With a population of about 24,000, it has become a destination spot.
Its gentrified square sets the atmosphere, with restaurants and shops, Square Books, one of the country’s leading independent bookstores, and the writer’s colony that revolves around it; the Thacker Mountain Radio Hour, broadcast live, usually from Off Square Book; and Rowan Oak, the antebellum home of the late Nobel Literary Prize winner, William Faulkner.
“We have been adding hotel rooms . . . at a rather brisk pace because we have been losing so much lodging revenue to other communities around us,” Maynard said.
Some visitors have been forced to find lodging as far away as Memphis in addition to Tupelo and Batesville, he said.
The city has added nearly 300 hotel rooms in the past three years, bringing the total to about 1,200, according to Visit Oxford Director Mary Allyn Hedges.
Obviously, the additional rooms haven’t stemmed demand for bed and breakast lodging.
Statewide, hotels and motels are posting steadily increasing numbers as the B-and-B segment during popular events, opens up the market to families less able to afford hotels.
Under an agreement between Airbnb and the Mississippi Department of Revenue, the company collects the state sales tax and local tourism taxes on behalf of its local hosts and remits the revenue to the state.
Airbnb recently announced that it delivered $1 million in tax revenue to the state in the first year of the agreement, far outpacing the original projection of $245,000.
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