Vacation rentals suspended, property owners adapt to the loss

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PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. (WMBB) — In tourism-heavy areas like Panama City Beach, it has been a painful spring season for many local businesses, including bars, restaurants, and now vacation rentals.

Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order on Friday to suspend all further vacation rentals throughout the state.

One Panama City Rental Property owner, Gary Jordan, says the last two weeks has been a downward spiral for the hospitality and tourism industry in the area, starting with restaurant and bar closures, then beach closures, and now the rental suspensions. 

Another local rental property owner, Paula Norris, said she is losing money every day.

“I’ve lost over ten thousand dollars with the three rentals that I have here,” she said on Saturday.

Dan Rowe, Executive Director of the Bay County Tourist Development Council, says it’s a major blow.

“This is devastating,” said Rowe. “The coronavirus has really impacted all segments of the beach’s tourism industry.”

Jordan agreed.

“We pay state tax, the local tax, TDC taxes,” said Jordan. “All that went to zero.”

Rowe said the county could easily see a loss up to $300 million in revenue, but added that he believes the federal stimulus bill should help to soften the burden on local businesses, along with plans being put in place by the TDC for when the restrictions are lifted.

“We’ll be on point, ready to welcome people back to the beach when it is time,” said Rowe. “Not before, but right when it is time to go into high gear.”

All agreed that while it’s a major hit to the economy, the number one priority at this time is to work as a community to help stop the spread of the outbreak. 

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