In the first phases of reopening Florida’s economy, the focus has been restaurants, retail, gyms and bars
All are vital industries, but in the Sunshine State, tourism is king.
Florida has taken steps toward jumpstarting crucial piece of the economy by opening theme parks — with safety measures such as social distancing in place — and, after a long and arguably unnecessary hiatus, ending the temporary ban on vacation rentals.
Timeshares are another major cog in the tourism machine, and they could play an indispensable role in generating much-needed revenue for businesses as well as state and local governments, who have seen collections hit unprecedented lows.
There are over 270,000 timeshare units in Florida, representing $10.5 billion in sales, and many of the largest purveyors, such as Disney, Marriott, Hilton, Wyndham, Holiday Inn Club, Bluegreen, Westgate and Berkley Group are based in the state.
An industry with that big of a footprint brings in a significant amount of tax revenue for the state and local areas, including property taxes for services they don’t use.
In the coronavirus era, timeshares hold key advantages over other forms of lodging: the prepaid nature of the product gives owners motivation to show up; amenities such as in-unit kitchens, washers and dryers play nice with social distancing guidelines; and prepaid professional maintenance ensures units and public areas are routinely cleaned to a high standard.
With tourists increasingly preferring drive-to destinations due to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s likely timeshare owners would be in the first wave of visitors flocking back to Florida.
Statistics back that up — most timeshare owners drive to their destination rather than flying, and they spend plenty of money when they do, helping governments stay afloat with gas and sales taxes, and giving local businesses such as restaurants and stores desperately needed revenue.
As reopening continues, caution is still advised. But timeshares present a travel option that can revive tourism and business without reviving the pandemic.