TYLER, Texas — More and more East Texans are turning to Airbnb to make a little extra cash.
Last year, Airbnb hosts across 11 East Texas counties brought in a combined $2.2 million according to a press release from Airbnb.
Hosts across Smith County racked up $700,000 but the most popular destination, is a small Flint cabin nestled in the woods by Lake Palestine.
Kevin and Debra Taylor built the charming space two years ago after a suggestion from their 25-year-old son.
“He's kind of from the generation that's all about Airbnb," Debra Taylor said. "I had never even heard of it till he suggested it, and now we use it all the time.”
The cabin features a camp fire area, a full kitchen, upstairs sleeping quarters and a deck porch, attracting not only guests from across the region, but across the world. The Taylors said the peaceful getaway could be why the spot is the number one most wish-listed in East Texas.
“We were actually on vacation celebrating our anniversary when we got that phone call," she said. "We were just like, 'Wow is that for real?' So it’s a great honor.”
She said there is a lot of hard work and some risk-taking involved, but they enjoy the face-to-face connection with their guests, and it keeps them busy after their children left the nest.
“We like to go have a little getaway just to renew our marriage and to get a little time away so we made it for people to do that," she said. "Just for people to unplug, to come to the quiet wooded area and get out of the city and that’s what most of our guests do.”
They unplug, but not completely.
Holli Fourniquet with Visit Tyler at the Tyler Chamber of Commerce said those tourism dollars help the people that call East Texas home.
“It’s one of our biggest money markets," Fourniquet said. "Whether a tourist comes in and stays at an Airbnb or at a hotel, or even with friends and family it’s a big deal to the Tyler economy because they don’t just stay there, they go out to restaraunts, attractions, gas stations and they’re spending their dollars here in Tyler at our businesses.”