Local News

Vacation Rentals Open Again

(New Buffalo, MI) - Vacation rentals in Michigan are open again and seeing good response from people eager to bust loose after cooped up from COVID-19 restrictions in the state.

            John Nastis with the Harbor Country Vacation Rental Association said the focus under the loosened restrictions is on both a pleasurable and safe experience for their guests.

            “We’re ready to do it in a very safe way.  We have a lot of protocols and a lot of good guidelines for a safe reopening,” he said.

            Nastis said it’s been an extremely tough couple of months financially for vacation rental owners.

He’s been fortunate to have some limited income from his two rental properties in Union Pier from guests booking month long stays not under the short term rental ban lifted by the governor recently as Michigan moves toward reopening its economy.

            He’s already had a decent number of short term rental bookings starting June 19 but he’s not sure what the rest of the season will hold because of cancellations during the COVID-19 lockdown and some people choosing to wait until next year from lingering fears about exposure to the virus.

            Nastis said he’s hoping the season typically at its strongest from mid-June through August will extend into late summer and early fall to help make up for the revenue losses.

            “This season will be totally different.  We don’t know that it’s going to bring,” he said.

            Vacation rentals are a major driver for the local economy with businesses relying heavily on customers from outside the area coming here and venturing out into the community.

            A lot of jobs are also created by vacation rentals forced to noticeably scale back their hiring for building and grounds maintenance and housekeepers.

            Nastis said safety precautions following CDC and industry recommendations include earlier check outs to provide additional time to clean the homes for incoming guests.

            Among the other measures are washing sheets and other bed linens at local laundromats equipped with washers and dryers operating at higher temperatures than machines on site.

            “Our main industry is tourism and we’re the mechanism that brings them here.  For travel, I think it’s one of the safer options of being at a house with your family,” Nastis said.

            New Buffalo City Manager Dave Richards said he’s pleased another piece of the puzzle for local economy back in business.

He’s also especially happy vacation rental owners will have money coming in once again to help meet the monthly mortgages on their properties.

            “I expect things will return to normal,” Richards said.


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