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City council to consider changing hotel and motel definitions

The Columbia Convention & Visitor’s Bureau (CVB) has requested a change in the definitions of hotel and motel to adjust for the rise of online home rental services like Airbnb.

Under the current definition, a home with under 12 bedrooms does not qualify as a either a hotel or motel, but homes of that size are often what customers find on online rental sites. The CVB has suggested to redefine the terms as, “…having any bedrooms furnished for the accommodation of such guests.”

On the agenda for tonight’s meeting, CVB officials say the change would “allow the city to approach online rental companies and begin discussion on developing agreements to collect the lodging tax, as well as any other applicable taxes.”

During weekends of home football games, hosts on Airbnb have housed thousands of guests. Excluding the final home game against Tennessee (Nov. 11-12), 2,720 guests have used Airbnb in Columbia. Homecoming weekend (Oct. 21-22) drew the highest with 640 guests, according to a spokesperson at Airbnb.

Over the six home-game weekends (excluding the final home-game against Tennessee), hosts on Airbnb have collected about $232,000, according to Airbnb.

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