2018-05-03 / Opinion


A Case for Airbnb

To the Editor:

Contrary to the assertion made in “Online Rentals, Airbnb Concern for City, State” (19 Apr. 2018), that Airbnb would "raise property taxes," or "cause landlords to evict tenants" or "make strangers of old neighbors," it is actually providing a key source of supplemental income for residents and increased business for local shops and restaurants throughout the Ocean State.

In Newport, in 2017, there are: 410 active hosts, 57 percent are women and 28 percent are seniors. The average age of a host is 50 years old. The typical host earned $11,700 per year. There were 32,100 inbound guests who stayed for an average of 2.5 days.

In 2017, 1,800 hosts statewide welcomed 116,000 inbound guests, a 66 percent rise from 2016, with the typical host earning $8,400 by renting their space for just three nights a month.

Indeed, the majority of our hosts (58 percent of Rhode Island hosts are women and a quarter are 60 years of age or older) are not fulltime commercial operators, but are instead locals seeking to make ends meet and age in place in the communities they love.

Airbnb is proud to not only empower these hosts, but also to support core public services throughout the state by automatically collecting and remitting applicable hotel taxes. As of March 2018, we have collected and remitted approximately $3.5 million to the State of Rhode Island since August 2015. Of those taxes, $363,000 were collected and remitted to the City of Newport.

These taxes are collected under a 2015 state law which gives the state the authority to audit Airbnb. Upon a hotel tax related audit, Airbnb provides transaction-level details, which are sufficient to ensure Airbnb’s collection and remittance is accurate and complete. Pursuant to federal law and our privacy policy, we do not share the personally identifiable information of our users. At a time of increased awareness to, and sensitivity for, the security of our personal data online, we believe these bulwarks of privacy have never been more important.

As spring blooms in New England, we look forward to the travel season to come and to ensuring that home sharing remains an economic engine in communities throughout the region.

Josh Meltzer
New York
Northeast Head of
Public Policy for Airbnb

Let the Armory Remain As Is

To the Editor:

Last week we visited Newport and found out the town is planning on selling the Armory building. My family spends three to seven weeks per year at timeshares in Newport and sometimes we do many day trips. One of the most consistent places we visit every time we are in Newport, is the Armory at 365 Thames St. All my children (four) and their spouses and my eight grandkids enjoy walking through and sometimes purchasing something that catches their eye. We also have brought many friends and they loved going through the Armory and also purchase particular items of interest.

I know many other friends that own timeshares or stay at the local hotels and they love to visit the Armory. I believe this is a special historical place to visit. We purchased our first timeshare back in 1993 and we have purchased more weeks since then. We love Newport and we love visiting the Armory every time we are there.

Please leave the property as is. It attracts possibly more people on a daily basis than the mansions. Also keep in mind, in the late fall through spring it’s usually the only place that’s open to visitors. Newport could lose a lot of business for those few restaurants or shops that are open during that time frame, and it will be a very sad day for Newport.

In summary, please keep the Armory as it is. It’s been there all these years and it will be missed by all, young and old.

Joe Mangiafico
Stow, Massachusetts

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