Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward is appearing in a new ad campaign for short-term home rental giant Airbnb, as the company faces criticism and prospective regulation in Florida and elsewhere.
The popular service connects homeowners willing to host travelers in their homes or rooms with travelers willing to book them. While proponents say Airbnb provides travelers with more options and homeowners with new revenue, critics have argued the service has a negative impact on housing availability and neighborhood character.
“A lot of people when they travel today, they want that authentic experience, and this is what Airbnb offers them,” Hayward says in the ad. “Our visitors have stayed in these neighborhoods and it makes the experience far more unique.”
The typical Airbnb vacation rental host in Florida makes about $6,700 per year, the company says, noting that more than 2.5 million people have booked Florida Airbnb listings over the past year.
“If you think about Florida’s economy, we’re the fourth-largest economy in the United States, and I think the ‘sharing economy’ has been a big win for Pensacola, gives people more options,” Hayward continued. “It’s another amenity and another service for our citizens.”
The ad is currently being promoted by Airbnb via social media and is running on air in the Tallahassee market, according to Florida Politics.