A Southwest Harbor couple checks for reservations of their home on Airbnb in this BDN file photo. The company released summer rental data for Maine on Wednesday. Credit: Micky Bedell | BDN

By the end of Labor Day weekend, Maine property owners will have made nearly $40 million renting rooms and apartments to vacationers this summer through the short-term rental website Airbnb, the company announced.

Airbnb released summer data Wednesday showing a big jump in business in Maine from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend. Counting the expected arrivals in the coming weekend, the state will welcome nearly 229,000 Airbnb guests this summer, an increase of about 71,000 compared to the summer of 2017.

The nearly $40 million in earnings by Mainers renting spaces through the website is a $13 million jump compared to the summer of 2017, the company reported. The typical Maine host made $4,800 over the summer this year, Airbnb said.

“The summer of 2018 was great for Airbnb in Maine, with more hosts, guests, and businesses enjoying the economic opportunity of the world’s leading home sharing community than ever before,” said Josh Meltzer, head of northeast policy for Airbnb, in a statement. “Airbnb is proud to bring the benefits of the tourist economy to every corner of Vacationland putting money in the pocketbooks of middle-class families, while boosting the bottom line for small businesses.”

The latest numbers come as many Maine communities are grappling with how to regulate the short-term rentals, which some critics believe are driving up prices and stripping supply in the longer term rental markets.

Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling has proposed an increase in registration fees for short-term rentals by as much as 400 percent, with the additional revenue helping fund more affordable housing.

The City Council in nearby South Portland is also considering ordinances that would add restrictions on residents looking to rent out properties short-term, following debates in recent years over regulation in communities such as Belfast and Rockland.

“I definitely think [short-term rentals are] something the community will thrive on,” Heather Hale, who owns an Airbnb in South Portland, told CBS 13 in a previous report. “The businesses need it. I mean, there are five coffee shops right in the Willard area right now. I think that’s why it’s grown so much, because of Airbnb.”

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Seth Koenig

Seth has nearly a decade of professional journalism experience and writes about the greater Portland region.