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— In an effort to boost rural North Carolina’s economy, VisitNC and Airbnb are partnering together to highlight small-town stays.

Last year, new Airbnb hosts in North Carolina earned a collective $75 million — and that’s not including the added bonus that local businesses receive when people book small-town stays.

Whether you’re looking for something elegant or rustic, Airbnb has something for everyone. As the weather is warming up, people are eager to get outside and visit North Carolina gems like the Blue Ridge Mountains or the Outer Banks.

The difference in staying with Aibnb compared to a hotel is that you are supporting a local business owner. Also, the experience is more intimate due to the relationship guests have with their hosts.

“These rural destinations have so much to offer those who are looking for a new vacation destination or even a temporary new home,” said Haven Thorn, communications manager with Airbnb.

Enter to win a North Carolina vacation

To encourage people to travel in North Carolina, VisitNC and Airbnb are doing a giveaway where people have the chance to win a $1,000 Airbnb stay voucher, a $500 Visa gift card and gift cards to three local businesses and attractions.

“The hope is that they will take the gift card and go to rural North Carolina to some of these off-the-beaten-path destinations,” Thorn said.

The sweepstakes began on April 25 and ends on Oct. 31. Five people have the chance to win cash toward their vacation. Winners will be chosen randomly based on three entry periods.

The first period begins on April 25 and ends on June 30, the second begins on July 1 and ends on Aug. 31 and the third begins Sept. 1 and ends Oct. 31.

To enter, go to VisitNC’s website.

Get inspired: Rural NC stays

There are plenty of hidden gems across North Carolina that can give you a taste of a new community and culture. Take this “modern treehouse” located on Hyco Lake in Semora.

Semora lake stay Airbnb

“The sunsets are surreal and are perfect for relaxing in the hot tub, hammocks, boat dock or paddle boarding,” Micheal’s Airbnb listing says.

Norlina tiny house stay

An unexpected beautiful stay lies in Norlina, about an hour north of Raleigh near the Virginia state line. The tiny house only costs $76 a night and promotes sustainable living.

The farm has animals on site to really give you that farm feel.

Fairview Airbnb stay

Just outside of Asheville, in Fairview, there’s a small creekside cabin for around $260 a night.

It includes a sauna and spectacular views. Hosts will provide complimentary organic fresh farm eggs.

Fairview Airbnb stays

If you’re missing the country, there are plenty of farm stays in North Carolina. In Biscoe — a town in Montgomery County, southwest of Raleigh — guests have a chance to live on a farm for a couple days. Guests have access to thousands of trails, local food, a bird barn, lamb barn and tobacco barn.

Airbnb Farm Stay in Biscoe

“On a working farm you get to learn new skills and work alongside your children and spouse, learning together, while helping support the growth of a Sheep farm and Solar Farm in rural North Carolina,” the Airbnb listing says.

Airbnb Farm Stay in Biscoe

“Everyone is learning new skills, how to do simple yet rewarding work on a farm, and enjoying farm fresh food and how to make it.”

Airbnb Farm Stay in Biscoe

If you don’t want to go too far away from the city, check out this tiny home stay in Efland in Orange County.

Efland Airbnb stay

The tiny home is located on a small organic farm surrounded by flowers, chickens and vegetables. The stay is only a 10 minute drive away from downtown Hillsborough.

Efland Airbnb Stay

One of the most popular Airbnb’s in North Carolina, at an affordable $162 a night, is in Morganton along the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Blue Ridge Mountain popular Airbnb stay

The small cabin is perfect for two people who want to take in the stunning views of North Carolina mountains — it has a hot tub and porch for just that.

Blue Ridge Mountain popular Airbnb stay

The Airbnb stay is at “one of the highest peaks in Burke County,” according to the listing.

How Airbnb impacts the local economy

Airbnb saw a 130% increase in people booking stays in rural North Carolina areas from 2019 to 2021, Thorn said.

The campaign is hoping to help North Carolina’s tourism economy bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tourism is a large part of the state’s economy, and last year, North Carolina brought in a near record-high number of tourism dollars to the state.

Gov. Roy Cooper announced this month that North Carolina brought in $28.9 billion in visitor spending in 2021.

Many people looking to cash in on the start-up economy or start their own business flock to Airbnb. According to a data analysis from Stratos, 14,000 new hosts are joining the platform each month.

“Since our founding, the Airbnb platform has helped communities use existing space to scale accommodations and absorb influx of visitors all while creating important economic opportunities for hosts and local small businesses,” Thorn said.

Airbnb has brought in a total of $33.8 billion to the US economy.

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