This 2020 vacation rental season, like just about everything this year, has been unlike any other. Earlier this year, COVID virus travel restrictions forced vacation rental cancellations during the first part of the vacation season. When the restrictions were lifted the Emerald Coast experienced a “booking frenzy” and the issue became providing enough inventory for the immediate need.
After being locked down in their homes, people craved being outdoors in the sunshine. The beach provided the best place to do that and social distance at the same time. Schools closed and many people were forced to work “from home”. This gave families the ability travel to the Emerald Coast without disrupting their day to day obligations.
David Demarest is the Communications Director for the Tourism Development Council in Walton County. The Walton County TDC obviously couldn’t know what to anticipate from a post COVID travel season but are pleasantly surprised that it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Demarest said normally there is a sharp drop in tourism at the end of August, but that was not the case this year.
“If you look at the last 90 days, for instance, we are up about 17% during that time frame,” said Demarest. This organic expansion of the vacation rental season could have lasting positive effects. “That is really what we really aim for,” said Demarest. “We don’t need more people to come during the summertime. We try with all of our marketing to get more people coming in the winter and the late fall months.”
This is exciting news for vacation rental owners and managers. Hopefully, this late in the season rally provides an opportunity for the bruised and battered industry to recoup losses from earlier this year.