Airbnb, a way to open your own home for guests and make a little money, has increased 91 percent in Montana over the past year, the company announced this week.
Airbnb reported 147,000 of what it calls “guest arrivals” in Montana last year.
Those arrivals brought $19.7 million into the state.
Billings had 5,000 Airbnb guests, who brought in $549,000.
Local hoteliers say the rise of Airbnb use may cut into the number of heads in their hotel beds, which could ultimately harm state and community tourism promotion efforts.
Steve Wahrlich, the owner of the Best Western Clocktower Inn, said more than 90 percent of Airbnb owners have not paid their share of taxes.
Those taxes include a state hotel tax of 7 percent and 2 percent for the Tourism Business Improvement District in Billings. Those dollars are used to promote tourism and benefit other industries, including bars and restaurants, recreation and retail.
Wahrlich also said Airbnb facilities are not inspected to meet requirements for the Americans with Disabilities Act, along with fire and safety.
“You look at what we spend in the way of safety ongoing each year to ensure our guests are safe and secure,” Wahrlich said. “That doesn’t necessarily translate to people that have Airbnb.”
“I don’t think anybody that has an Airbnb unit is out to hurt individuals, but there are a variety of guidelines that we live by.”
The top Airbnb destinations in Montana are Bozeman, Missoula, Whitefish, and West Yellowstone.
Wahrlich said he expects the state legislature to help during the 2019 session.