SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - The Suncoast may soon be welcoming visitors! Governor DeSantis has allowed counties throughout the state to begin submitting reopening plans for vacation rentals. These plans can already be sent to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. As soon as they give counties the stamp of approval, vacation rentals can begin taking reservations.
Tourism leaders in Sarasota County have been hard at work drafting that plan to once again allow for vacation rentals.
"We’re not going to achieve the kind of occupancy we once had. Just the sheer amount of time it takes to clean between guests, but if we could at least get some business through the door, that would be great,” Virginia Haley, the President of Visit Sarasota County, explained.
Visit Sarasota County worked on the first draft of the plan – outlining several guidelines for reservations, health and safety of guests and cleanliness of all properties being rented.
"This isn’t just wiping down a surface. The cleaning products have to be on it for at least three minutes. It’s very involved, so you want to make sure that everyone is properly trained on how to work under this new environment. Those are procedures that are going to be with our businesses from now on. Customers are going to want to see that you care about their health and your employees’ health,” said Haley.
Property owners are also making sure guests can continue practicing social distances, especially in common areas.
"By the pools we’re actually keeping 10 feet between tables and chairs, so we are distancing them. We are doing everything we possibly can the CDC recommends,” explained, Steve Cavanaugh, owner of Tropical Sands Accommodations.
Plus, owners cannot book any reservations from people living in COVID-19 hotspots.
"New York. Connecticut. New Jersey. The nice thing about this though is that the CDC tracks these hotspots on their website, so as things start to get better, then you can start to invite those people too. That was a very big component of it because we know that we don’t want to bring any additional infection into the community, so I think it’s a good way that we can balance health and safety, but still allow people to earn a living,” explained Haley.
Although tourism officials are expecting most visitors to be traveling form within the state, property owners say they are looking forward to just welcoming any guests.
"We can't wait to see people from Ohio or all those other areas that we are allowed to welcome. Our phones are ringing off the hook from people who want to be in… now. I get it, this is a very scary situation for a lot of people, but there are people that are just tired of being locked up in their homes. They want to come to the beach,” said Cavanaugh.
Sarasota County will be finalizing their vacation rental plan on Wednesday, and they hope to receive approval from the state by Friday. This way, property owners can roll out their welcome mats just in time for Memorial Day weekend.