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SC adding stats on Airbnbs, other short-term rentals to monthly lodging reports

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Commercial properties on Spring and Cannon streets qualify for short-term rentals. The S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism will start reporting data about short-term rentals in its monthly statewide lodging report. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

For the first time this year, South Carolina's statewide lodging reports will include data on short-term rentals in addition to hotels. 

The reports, which feature statistics on occupancy rates, room nights sold and revenue, are released monthly by the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

By combining hotel numbers from the travel research firm STR and short-term rental figures from data provider AirDNA, the goal is to "present a combined picture of overnight visitation to the state," said S.C. tourism director Duane Parrish

Two sets of results will be presented — one for hotels and another for short-term rentals — and the department is also working on a way to combine some of the data to give a more comprehensive summary of overnight visitation trends.

The lodging reports are released on about a month delay. The January 2020 edition, which would be the first to include the short-term data, will likely be released in late February.  

Vacation rentals have been part of the Palmetto State's lodging sector for years but, with the rise of Airbnb, Vrbo and other online booking sites, the category has grown to comprise a significant portion of the market. 

Citing AirDNA data, Parrish said that there were more than 50,000 active short-term rental listings in South Carolina as of the end of last year, representing 3 percent of all the listings nationwide.

Traditional hotel rooms still well outnumber short-term rentals in South Carolina. The travel research firm STR estimates there are about 112,000 hotel rooms in the state.

By STR and AirDNA's measures, short-term rentals make up about 30 percent of the accommodations units in the state. 

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The short-term rental category is still growing quickly, though not quite as rapidly as it was a couple years ago, according to a new report from the real estate company CBRE. 

More than 100,000 short-term rentals are expected to be added in the U.S. in 2020. Last year, supply went up by 115,000 units, which was down from the about 123,000 units that were added in 2018, according to AirDNA. 

Listings in South Carolina increased by 10 percent last year. 

The site makes some of its data free and public, like the estimated number of short-term rental listings in a particular city, broken down by whether the rentals are listed on Airbnb, Vrbo or both. 

For example, the site counts about 2,200 active listings in Charleston, 61 percent of which are listed on Airbnb. That's compared to nearly 6,600 rentals in Myrtle Beach and about 6,700 on Hilton Head Island.

Based on AirDNA's data, most of the state's short-term rentals are concentrated on the coast. In Greenville, the site finds fewer than 700 listings. In Columbia, the number is closer to 600. 

Charts on the site also track the recent growth of short-term rental listings in a city. In Charleston, where the city has enforced stricter rental rules for about a year and a half, that number has remained relatively steady for the past few years. 

In Myrtle Beach and Hilton Head, the charts show steadier growth. There were about 2,000 fewer short-term rental listings in Myrtle Beach at the beginning of 2018 than now, and Hilton Head added nearly 1,000 rentals last year.  

Estimates of occupancy rates, monthly revenue and the average rental cost per night are also available on the free dashboard.

Kiawah Island, which is looped in with a smattering of listings on Johns Island, appears to have one of the highest average rates, about $327 per night. A short-term rental in Greenville goes for less than half that at an average of $135.

Reach Emily Williams at 843-937-5553. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and employment. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.

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