The magic of West Texas and the Texas Hill Country have long beckoned travelers, but a new study from Airbnb reveals just what an economic powerhouse the region is becoming.
On September 19, the hospitality company and home rental site released data for 177 rural Texas counties, and revealed that over the past 12 months, more than $20.6 million has been funneled into these rural areas — and that's just rental fees.
Of those 177 rural counties, five raked in more than $1 million in what Airbnb calls "combined host income." Perhaps unsurprisingly to Austinites, three of the five counties attracting the biggest bucks are in the Hill Country while West Texas' Brewster and Presidio, the two counties encompassing Alpine, Marfa, and Big Bend National Park, round out the top five.
Airbnb's data points to a growing trend among travelers who want to escape the hustle of a city for a rural experience. "This report comes on the heels of new data demonstrating that the Texas hotel industry is booming ... yet per that same report, two-thirds of Texas hotel rooms and three-fourths of Texas hotel room revenue are centralized in the four metro areas of Dallas-Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, and Houston," said Airbnb in its report.
Gillespie County, which includes charming towns like Fredericksburg and Luckenbach, was the most popular rural county in Texas, welcoming 49,000 visitors over the past 12 months. Together, Gillespie County's 230 Airbnb hosts raked in a combined $6.6 million in additional income.
Brewster, home to dreamy West Texas towns like Alpine and Marathon, takes the second spot with 19,200 travelers spending $2 million on rental properties over the past year. Presidio was next with 9,500 Airbnb-ers spending $1.6 million, followed by Llano's 9,500 renters bringing $1.3 million in combined income. Kerr Country rounded out the top five, welcoming 9,100 folks and an additional $1 million.
So where do travelers check in when they're checking out the Hill Country? In July, Airbnb released data for the 50 most wish-listed spots in Texas, and among the charming abodes are this incredible Terlingua dome, a quaint Fredericksburg cottage, and a cozy Kerrville apartment.