Vacation rental concerns | Letter

Vacation rental concerns | Letter

We face a unique challenge in San Juan County. We have a greater ability than most areas to control the spread of SARS-CoV-2, yet simultaneously depend economically on visitors. We also have a disproportionately elderly population, who are at increased risk for fatal complications from COVID-19.

Our community has performed admirably in combating the first wave of this pandemic. We have flattened the curve by making extraordinary efforts to step up and care for each other, enact protective measures, and stay home for everyone’s safety.

The success we have had so far is not cause to grow complacent. COVID-19 will undoubtedly spread further in our community if tourism is allowed to reopen. Yet balanced against this danger is the prospect of economic ruin for many islanders if some degree of tourism is not allowed to resume in the near future.

It is with these weighty stakes that our community must navigate a path forward. We in the Vacation Rental Work Group believe that any reopening of tourism must be enacted with great caution. For example, hotels, B&Bs and resorts could begin to resume operation at a safely reduced capacity with additional safeguards to be maintained by hosts or staff members. Onsite supervision is key.

Looking further ahead, this pandemic has presented an opportunity for us to strengthen and diversify our local economy and reduce our dependency on tourism. If we work together, we can emerge from this an even stronger and more vibrant community.

The Vacation Rental Work Group

Orcas