SOUTH WALTON Fla. (WMBB) — Beach rentals have seen a very unpredictable year due to COVID-19 mandated shutdowns from a year ago.
Many rental companies chose to reschedule visitors to come during the fall and winter months and tourism officials are taking advantage. They plan to attract visitors year-round.
Traditionally Fall and Winter are the seasons where beach rental companies, like Dune Allen Realty, have more time to prepare for their busy season.
But after COVID-19 rearranged plans for many, they think offseasons will no longer be the case going forward.
“Our fall was very full. We were almost at 100% capacity,” said Beth Godwin the Dune Allen Realty General Manager.
Godwin said Fall normally gives her beach rental company time to prepare for the spring rush, which her company has seen for 62 years.
“It definitely makes it a little more difficult, but we seem to be handling it fine,” said Godwin. “We’ve had to add a few more employees.”
David Demarest the South Walton Tourist Development Council Communication Director said he has also seen visitor trends increase throughout the 15,000 South Walton rental properties.
“With COVID aside, what we are trying to achieve here is a year-round stable economy,” said Demarest. “Where we don’t have those highs and lows, where you are scrambling to hire people and letting them go for months at a time what we want is that even year-round visitation.”
Although it’s been unpredictable this past year, she said they are prepared to see about 100% capacity again this summer.
“Summer books first and then spring looks up afterward. They do a little bit of last-minute reservation but we are looking very busy for the spring as well,” said Godwin.
Both Demarest and Godwin are preparing to see this trend continue as visitors feel more comfortable traveling once again.