Huntsville’s growing popularity increases lodging options including Airbnb rentals

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - If you've lived in the area for a while, you've probably noticed that the Rocket City is preparing for take off.

New developments are popping up left and right and more people are visiting.

For a while, the number of hotel rooms could sustain the number of visitors. But things have changed.

"Huntsville is growing, we're hosting more activities, more people are moving into the community and the overall business climate is growing," said Charles Winters, Executive Vice President of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

While the city places importance on catering to its citizens, guests bring in lots of revenue as well.

"The estimate from the Alabama Tourism Department in 2017 was $1.3 billion total as far as what visitors brought into the community," said Winters.

A new hotel just opened this week in Downtown Huntsville, AC Hotel, bringing even more lodging to the area.

"Now we've got about 6800 hotel rooms community wide," added Winters.

Some people are renting out their homes to accommodate visitors.

"Airbnb, there are lots of options in the Huntsville, Madison County area as well as traditional hotel properties," explained Winters.

But be advised, the city said if you're looking to rent out your space on Airbnb, there may be some business you need to handle first.

If your property is in a certain zoning district, the city may require you to have a business license before you can rent out your space.

"There's a function where it starts out by applying for a business license," explained Thomas Nunez, Planning Manager at the City of Huntsville. "Our staff looks into the uses and the zoning district to see how they can be accommodated and do business going forward.

That's definitely not a step you want to skip.

"Just as any other business, operating a business without a license is essentially illegal," Nunez added.

City officials said the process of applying for a business license takes a bit of time, so you should start the application as soon as you can.

To find out if you are in a zone that requires you to possess a license for your Airbnb, contact the Huntsville City Planning Division or visit the city's website.

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