I went to Tallahassee recently as a representative of the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association — and for an industry that has become a vital part of Florida’s tourism economy.

 

And I heard an encouraging speech given by Carol Dover, CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Dover began her speech by asking: Why shouldn’t the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association embrace vacation rentals?

Vacation rentals create more capacity for the rising number of travelers coming to Florida.

These same visitors support local businesses and restaurants, some of which are members of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

As vacation rentals — fueled by easy-to-use online platforms such as Airbnb and HomeAway — have increased in popularity, some have suggested that the Florida hotel industry must be suffering.

But data shows Florida’s hotel industry is growing as well.

Many individuals rely on using their homes as vacation rentals for extra cash to pay the bills, buy new school clothes for their kids or save for a new car.

This extra income pumps millions of dollars into local economies and benefits all businesses in Florida.

Reputable vacation rental owners and managers, like myself, want to do what is right and pay our fair share of taxes to state and local government. We are not looking for a “free ride.”

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Dover stated, is trying to accomplish just three main things when it comes to vacation rentals:

• First, make sure all vacation rentals in Florida are registered and licensed through the state’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

We agree.

• Second, require that a license number be included on all advertisements.

We agree.

• Third, ensure vacation rental owners are paying the same taxes that everyone else pays.

Again, we agree.

I was only disappointed when Dover stopped short of expressing support for proposed legislation now in the Florida Legislature.

As currently drafted, the legislation protects the private property rights of all homeowners and ensure that regulations are applied uniformly. It should not matter whether homeowners choose to rent their homes on a short-term or long-term basis.

Or not at all.

The local ordinances should apply equally.

Jennifer Frankenstein-Harris, president of the Florida Vacation Rental Management Association,

Kissimmee