Vacation rental homes marketed in Florida by Airbnb drew more than 4.5 million guests in 2018, with Osceola County second statewide only to Miami-Dade in the numbers of guests and in revenue for the homes’ owners.

It’s a distant second.

Still, unlike most other Central Florida counties, Osceola County’s regulations are pretty open in allowing vacation rental homes, particularly in select parts of the county, notably the Four Corners area. Airbnb’s numbers indicate that regulatory framework, combined with Osceola’s location next to Walt Disney World and near other attractions, have made it a vacation rental home leader.

In a report released Tuesday detailing business activity by one of the state’s biggest vacation rental home platforms, Airbnb stated that Florida properties marketed on its website attracted 4.5 million guest arrivals, providing $810 million in rent last year. In most cases, that money amounted to supplemental income for home-owners who had converted bedrooms or full houses or apartments into short-term vacation rentals.

In 2018, vacation rental properties marketed on Airbnb in Osceola County hosted 650,000 guest arrivals, and that provided $82.6 million in revenue for the vacation rental homes’ owners, according to Airbnb. Both of those numbers are about twice what Orange County experienced in 2018.

Miami-Dade led the state with 954,000 Airbnb guest arrivals in 2018, bringing in $204 million, the company reported Tuesday.

In the rest of Central Florida, Orange County saw 338,000 guest arrivals and about $40 million in rent revenue; Polk County, 195,000 and $22.5 million; Volusia County, 91,000 and $14.5 million; Brevard County, 82,000 and $12.8 million; Lake County, 49,000 and $6.5 million; and Seminole County, 22,000 and $2.7 million.

The Airbnb statewide numbers are tiny fractions of the full tourism activity seen by Florida in 2018, with 117 million visitors. Airbnb argued Tuesday that its business activity is not competing with traditional hotels and motels but complementing them. Airbnb cited reports that said Florida’s hotel industry achieved growth in room occupancy, rates, and revenue in 2018 even as the vacation rental business grew.

This suggests that vacation rentals are opening up the state to a new slice of prospective tourists by catering to travelers less able to afford hotels, those who desire to stay in neighborhoods or cities that lack hotels, and families who prefer to be together under one roof, the company stated in a news release announcing the numbers.

Rounding out Florida’s top 10 busiest counties, after Miami-Dade and Osceola, were Broward, Pinellas, Orange, Palm Beach, Bay, Monroe, Lee, and Sarasota, respectively. Each of them had at least 100,000 guest arrivals, and at least $22.8 million in revenue for the host property owners, in 2018.

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