Following a surge in demand for domestic travel during the pandemic, Airbnb says rural escapes and farmstays are more popular than ever. Rose Dykins reports

Airbnb has shared insights into how the rise in domestic travel led to 8,100 cities and towns across the world gaining their first ever guests – with 1,300 of these locations in the US.

What’s more, the rental platform reported that in 2021, domestic nights booked on Airbnb by US guests for stays in rural areas grew by 110 per cent compared to 2019. This translated into earnings of more than US$3.5 billion for Airbnb hosts in rural counties over the course of last year.

Airbnb says these healthy earnings suggest there is a strong opportunity for new Airbnb hosts in rural areas – and that the average time to get a first booking for the majority of new listing is currently approximately one week.

The company also revealed the approximate earnings of Airbnb Host earnings by state in 2021 – with Colorado coming out on top at US$363 million.

Airbnb income map

Airbnb says that alongside the rapid growth of rural travel during the pandemic, farmstays have become its fourth-largest category on its site, with 100,000 listings.

Nights booked at farm stays doubled in the first quarter of 2022 compared with the same period in 2019. This has led to farmers in the US increasingly looking to Airbnb as a way to earn additional income, while providing unique and enriching experiences for their guests.

More than 7,000 Airbnb farm stays were booked in the US in 2021 – a 40 per cent rise compared with 2019 – and the typical farm stay host in the US earned an average of  US$10,300 in 2021.

Airbnb host rural USOne Airbnb Host – named Nancy – was signed up to the rental platform in 2016 by one of her daughters, after she had been feeling unsure about what to do with the guest house on her family farm in Plain City, Ohio. Her listing is set on a 13-acre property complete with horses, goats, chickens and ducks.

Six years later, Nancy has had more than 800 stays, tells Airbnb she has seen an increase in the desire for new experiences from her guests during the pandemic. “People have been hungry for connection – both on a human level and with nature, and I think our farm offers that kind of therapeutic travel that people have been yearning for over the last two years,” she says.

Nancy says she puts the extra income she earns through hosting on Airbnb back into the farm, and that it has helped her with necessary repairs, feed for animals and ongoing maintenance as well as supplementary income.

Airbnb recently introduced Airbnb Categories to help users discover new homes and locations they never knew existed in places they may not have heard of previously – helping to spread tourism outside of typical destinations.