Local governments across Florida are rushing to reopen short term rentals before peak travel season, showing the industry’s importance to Florida’s economy.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a “phase one” plan for reopening short term rentals on a case-by-case basis. Counties across the state have submitted reopening guidelines for approval in hopes of jump-starting the state’s lucrative tourism industry. So far, Escambia, Okaloosa and Santa Rosa counties have been approved to reopen.

Counties submitted their own reopening guidelines but many contain similar types of restrictions. Santa Rosa County’s restrictions exemplify the types of stipulations seen across various counties:

Vacation rentals reservations and stays will be allowed from all U.S. states with a COVID-19 Case Rate less than 500 cases/100K residents as of May 14 (Reservations from other identified COVID-19 hot spots in the country will be avoided for the next 30-45 days)

Property owners and managers will provide Covid-19 guidance of any local restrictions that are in place during the guest stay and other related local information

Signage will be placed at each property highlighting the cleaning protocols between stays.

Push to Reopen Highlights Importance of the Short Term Rental Market

Florida’s tourism industry is incredibly important to the economic health of the state and individual vacation rental owners.

Florida accounts for 16.7% of all U.S. based short term vacation rentals, making the industry a huge economic contributor to the state. Covid-19 has forced travel restrictions across the country, hurting the bottom line of vacation rental owners across the state.

A survey of Florida-based short term rental owners showed that 88% are dependent on rental revenue. About 85% also said that they’ve had to reduce salaries or implement other cost-cutting measures including laying off or furloughing staff.

Data from Vrbo suggests that consumers are shifting to more localized travel, searching for destinations within driving distance. Florida’s short-term rental market could see upside from more road-tripping regional travelers.



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