Eclipse makes Idaho top Airbnb destination

In this May 20, 2012, file photo, the annular solar eclipse produces flare through a lens in Alameda, Calif. Destinations are hosting festivals, hotels are selling out and travelers are planning trips for the total solar eclipse that will be visible coast to coast on Aug. 21, 2017. A narrow path of the United States 60 to 70 miles wide from Oregon to South Carolina will experience total darkness, also known as totality. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Online short-term rental marketplace Airbnb says the Aug. 21 eclipse has caused a record-breaking number of sales throughout the path of the eclipse, and Idaho is no exception.

“Airbnb is going to have its biggest night ever in Idaho the night of the eclipse,” spokeswoman Jasmine Mora said.

The company expects that short-term rental providers will get up to $1 million in income the night of Aug. 21 alone. Idaho is expected to receive the fourth-highest number of Airbnb guests in the nation, a company release noted. More are expected only in Tennessee, South Carolina and Oregon, though the path of totality extends across the nation from coast to coast.

More than 8,000 homes statewide have been rented out through Airbnb during the eclipse weekend, and that doesn’t count homes rented out through competitors such as VRBO.

Statewide, Airbnb expects a 450 percent increase in visitors during the week of Aug. 20 compared to the prior week, and eastern Idaho is expected to see a much higher increase.

In Idaho Falls, Airbnb expects 739 homes and rooms to be rented out to eclipse visitors. That’s nearly a seven-fold increase from what’s expected the week prior. In Rexburg, 1,120 are expected — an eight-fold increase. And 669 are expected in Rigby. That’s nearly a 65-fold increase.

Mora said the visitors will help the local economy.

“These guests that are coming in … are also going to be spending money at the gas station,” she said. “They’re going to pick up groceries at the grocery store.”

While the supply of short-term rentals has boomed in response to the eclipse, there are indications that demand is growing even faster. Airbnb notes that the average nightly rate in Idaho will be $314 during that time period. There have been short-term rentals listed for up to $3,000 per night, though it’s unknown whether anyone took that offer.

Airbnb has a deal with the state to collect state taxes, but Idaho Falls residents who rent out their homes must register with the Idaho Falls Auditorium District to pay bed taxes. A month ago, district staff reported that only around a dozen people with short-term rental properties had registered.

Reporter Bryan Clark can be reached at 208-542-6751.