Irving Rodríguez and Roberto Casanova share a villa in San Germán.
Recently released data by short-term rental platform Airbnb confirmed that the increase in the cost of living is one of the main reasons why more Puerto Ricans decide to share their homes and become hosts on the island.
Being a host represents an economic lifeline for many as the average private room host has earned extra income. Airbnb said that last year, private room hosts in Puerto Rico earned a total of more than $9.2 million while the typical private room host earned more than $4,200.
The data is “complemented by a survey of hosts [in which] they expressed that this activity has become an economic lifeline for many of them and their families,” Airbnb stated.
“This is essential to understand the real impact that this activity has on local communities and the importance of being able to travel or be a host on Airbnb for many Puerto Rican,” it added.
The survey revealed that:
- Nearly 70% of hosts said being participating on the platform is not their main economic activity, as most of them have another profession or work in a different sector.
- Nearly 60% said participating in short-term rentals has helped them pay for food or other items that have become more expensive.
- Meanwhile, 50% said sharing a space on the platform helped them keep their home.
- In addition, about 50% of the hosts identified themselves as women.
- 19% are retired.
The popularity of private rooms — the most affordable stay option available on Airbnb — has also grown in Puerto Rico, where nights booked grew by approximately 40%, the platform stated.
“Private rooms are a unique option for visiting cities and staying with a local person gives guests the opportunity to experience high-quality stays,” Airbnb stated. “In the first quarter of 2023 more than 80% of private room reviews in Puerto Rico received a 5-star rating, the highest on the platform.”
Meanwhile, Airbnb confirmed that its hosts “help extend the benefits of tourism to more families and local businesses by giving recommendations to their guests,” as 31% of them recommend local businesses to guests such as restaurants and cafes; 17% recommend stores or boutiques; 28% recommend outdoor activities; and 22% recommend sites that are little known among tourists.
“These recommendations made by the hosts have a positive impact on the community as guest spending goes beyond accommodation. Guests visit and invest in local businesses and commerce which helps the economic spillover benefits within the island,” Airbnb stated.
Boricuas proud to share their space
“Our house is different,” said Irving Rodríguez, who along with Roberto Casanova share a villa in San Germán. “We’re very happy when a repeat guest visits. There are excellent restaurants, stores, rivers, mountains, beaches, and more cultural activities nearby that we recommend. This way we keep our contribution to the other businesses within the neighborhood, the town, and the area active.”
Meanwhile, Madelyn Heredia and Jesús Alcaráz enjoy receiving people from different countries at their farm in Utuado, which they painstakingly rebuilt after Hurricane María.
“I love to talk and teach others what I do,” Heredia said about the different people from all over the world who now visit their farm. “They’ve come from Mexico to Afghanistan.”
“It’s been a lifesaver,” said Evelyn Vega, who helped her mother share the house they have in Ponce through the Airbnb platform. As the first room rented out well, they moved on with including the others.