After taking a dip earlier in the pandemic, the supply of Airbnb rentals has recovered and surpassed pre-COVID levels, though that recovery has generally favored some communities over others.

That’s the takeaway from a new report by AirDNA, a tracking firm that analyzes short-term rentals. The report begins by highlighting the early impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Airbnb, noting that between January and June of last year the company “lost 5 percent of its total listings.” However, Airbnb has “since recovered and grown 2.5 percent off of pre-pandemic levels.”

In total, the report notes, there are now more than 5.4 million active listings on Airbnb, which is more than established hoteliers Hilton, Marriot and Holiday Inn parent IHG have combined.

All of this no doubt comes as good news for Airbnb, which just went public in December. AirDNA’s report also comes just weeks after Airbnb saw a record number of bookings in February.

However, despite the surging interest in short-term rentals not all markets are benefiting equally. The latest report specifically notes that small towns, rural areas and “destination/resort areas” have fared the best in terms of supply of rental units.

“As of February 2021 a mix of mountain and coastal locations gained the most number of new available listings,” the report explains.

Credit: AirDNA

The report specifically calls out Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Tampa, Florida; Fredericksburg, Texas; and the Ozark Mountain region, among other places, as having gained new supply of Airbnb rental units. Unique units — places such as lighthouses, yurts and tiny homes — have also proven popular.

“These listings thrived as guests looked for distinctive experiences in isolated areas and should continue to attract above average occupancy as travelers look for new things to do in their home country,” the report notes.

On the other hand, some areas have struggled and their supply of short-term rental units remains down. For example, in Canada, 40 percent of Airbnb listings were concentrated in just three cities — Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal — and collectively those three markets “have lost 22 percent of their active supply over the past year compared to a decline of just 3.5 percent throughout the rest of Canada.”

Australia and the U.K. have also seen net decreases in the supply of Airbnb units, while Brazil, China, the U.S. and several other countries have seen net increases. France was the country that saw the largest increase in active Airbnb units.

Credit: AirDNA

A number of other markets have also seen property owners remove units, either temporarily or permanently, in the face of falling demand. Available listings in Amsterdam, for example, were down 45 percent year-over-year in February. In New York City, they were down more than 38 percent.

The report points to New York City, Toronto and Beijing as places where declines in Airbnb listings may be permanent.

On the other hand, the report states, “Orlando was one of only two top-25 markets that actually gained available listings throughout the pandemic as restrictions in Florida eased before most other U.S. states.”

Despite the uneven recovery, the AirDNA report ultimately concludes that “demand for short-term rentals is expected to show a significant recovery in 2021 as vaccines continue to roll out and pent-up demand accelerates bookings globally.”

“In the near future,” the report states, “those types of markets that performed best in 2020 will continue to shine in 2021 and investors should be positioning now to add new supply ahead of the upcoming peak seasons.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

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