Travel restrictions preventing seasonal travelers from coming back to SWFL

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

Laura Bonomi’s heart and home are in Southwest Florida. But, unfortunately for her, she’s not.

“It’s frustrating seeing the numbers don’t go down so quickly. It’s hard. We wish we were there,” Bonomi said.

But for now, this seasonal Floridian is stuck in Rome. “If the borders were not closed, I probably would have taken my risk. Because I can come there, I can quarantine,” said Bonomi.

So her home in Rotonda West sits empty. She emphasized, “I have a pool. The sun is out, you know?”

There may be quite a few homes sitting empty this winter, according to those who tend to houses while the owners are away.

“I’d be surprised if it’s the season that we’re used to,” said Home Watch business owner Tim Gilliland.

Gilliland says that when the pandemic first began, people were here longer because they didn’t want to go back to states like New York.

People were here longer because they didn’t want to go back to New York or New Jersey or they didn’t want to travel,” he said.

But as case numbers rose in the Sunshine State and many international borders began to close, people stopped coming.

Many clients “told us they don’t think they’ll make it back down and those are mostly our Canadian customers,” said Ron Hudnall, with Hudnall’s Home Tech Services.

But Hudnall is hopeful since most people have not said that they’re not coming. “We haven’t heard from a lot of people like if they’re not coming,” he said.

As many as 10% of seasonal travelers come from Canada, and that border remains closed.

Gilliland said he doesn’t think that seasonal travelers will be back until we can predict what the coronavirus will do next.

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