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The popular, and at times controversial, short-term home rental platform Airbnb brought an impressive number of guests to Washington, DC in 2016. And, according to new data released by Airbnb, those guests spent millions of dollars in the district’s many restaurants, cafes and retail shops.

A whopping 287,000 guests visited DC in 2016 via the platform, an increase of almost 80 percent from 2015. Airbnb hosts in DC earned close to $59 million last year by sharing their homes through Airbnb.

Meanwhile, Airbnb guests spent over $150 million at DC businesses — nearly double what guests spent in 2015. DC has more than 68,2000 small businesses, which account for 92 percent of the jobs in DC. They employ over 233,000 people, says Airbnb.

Over 200 small businesses signed a letter voicing their support of Airbnb presence in DC, for “responsible home sharing among their patrons and neighbors.”

“Airbnb’s presence is DC is a significant revenue boost to our local neighborhoods-attracting new visitors from across the US and globe, adding to the success of small businesses like mine,” said Teddy Folkman, owner of Granville Moore, a local eatery in DC,

Another small business owner, Erik Bruner-Yang agrees that small and locally-owned businesses in DC are “on fire.” Bruner-Yang is the owner and executive chef of Maketto, a restaurant in DC. He added that Airbnb brings world travelers to their neighborhoods, and, as a result more, business through their doors.

Some of the platform’s critics have argued that in some cities, like New York, that vacant apartments used as a short-term rental take away from the city’s viable housing stock, driving rental prices up. While data from FiveThirtyEight found Airbnb has little effect on rising rents, other critics of the platform say that Airbnb hurts local hotels, and cities lose revenue on hotel taxes — especially during conventions or other big events.

But Airbnb pointed out that, since February 2015, its community has contributed over $12 million in hotel and occupancy taxes to DC. Aside from the increased tourism and tax revenue, Airbnb says it is an important option for cities and communities “looking to expand their ability to host major events.”

And, according to Airbnb, many of these visitors will stay in areas that don’t normally see significant tourism revenue increases during these major events. In fact, in most cities over 75 percent of Airbnb listings are located outside of the main hotel districts, added Airbnb.

The top cities where DC Airbnb guest reservations originated from in 2016 were New York City, NY, Los Angeles, CA, Philadelphia, PA, Boston, MA, Chicago, IL, San Francisco, CA, Seattle, WA, Atlanta, GA, Houston, TX and from overseas in London, UK.

Click here to read the entire report.

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