Hello readers! Today’s blog is about how COVID-19 has impacted vacation rental agencies and in turn travel and tourism. As most Floridians may know, on March 27th Governor Ron DeSantis announced that the state would be suspending vacation rentals for two weeks. Nobody in the hospitality industry was expecting this pandemic, especially at the start of the season (spring break). Every business in this industry is going to take some sort of a hit because of travel restrictions, but vacation rentals have had the quickest drop. When the Coronavirus first started being publicized, travel started to slow and when beaches closed it really brought Florida vacationers to a halt.
Just like many other types of businesses, these vacation rental companies have had to lay off employees. While every vacation rental agency cannot take any rentals for the two weeks, each company is handling canceled rentals differently. “Many agencies that handle rentals for homeowners are not enforcing their cancellation refund policies that state there will be no refund for Act of God, or catastrophic events. The rental companies, in conjunction of the owners of the homes they are renting, are allowing visitors to reschedule their vacations. Some are providing full or partial refunds, depending on the homeowner.” (Quoted from the article DeSantis’s ban on vacation rentals delivers another COVID-19 blow to Anna Maria Island in the Bradenton Herald)
This has personally affected me as well. As a student in the Global Hospitality and Tourism Management program you need to complete three internship hour credits to graduate. I am currently fulfilling my second one here with Historic Pensacola and planned to complete my third credit over the summer. I was accepted into Vacasa’s Hospitality summer internship program. Vacasa is a vacation rental company and I was supposed to work with the team in Fort Walton Beach. Because of COVID-19’s impact and uncertainty, Vacasa has cancelled their internship program for summer 2020. So not only has this created a loss for tourists, homeowners, and companies, but many students as well. See these interactive graphs showing Florida vacation rentals impact.