CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The City of Corpus Christi wants to apply the stay-at-home order to out of town visitors as well.
The city council voted Tuesday to temporarily halt short term rentals. The decision effectively shuts the door on tourists who had been planning vacation rentals here.
Even though there are stay-at-home orders on the city, county, and state levels across the country, Mayor Joe McComb wants to limit the number of people coming to Corpus Christi during the crisis.
“It’s unfortunate, but we still are seeing a lot of leisure travelers coming in to town,” said Visit Corpus Christi CEO Brett Oetting.
Oetting saw it first-hand at the hotel he’s been staying at while moving into town to start his new job
“Just over the weekend there was a group off gentlemen from Louisiana that showed up and they told the desk they were here for a five day fishing trip,” said Oetting.
To help prevent visitors from traveling to the city, Tuesday’s amended order now asks people who operate short-term rentals through sites like Airbnb to stop taking vacation reservations.
“Port A, Rockport have already done something similar,” said Oetting. “A lot of the Florida beach communities have done this as well.”
There are hundreds of Aibnb rentals available across the city, many with reservations scheduled this month. Texas is under a statewide stay-at-home order, but McComb thinks visitors still want to come here because of the area’s low number of confirmed coronavirus cases.
“We’re, relatively speaking, in pretty good shape and we want to keep it that way,” said McComb.
McComb says several tourist spots are closed. He’s also worried about visitors bringing the virus here; or worse, catching it here and taking it home.
The irony of asking people not to come to a tourist town isn’t lost on Oetting.
“It’s sacrilegious almost,” said Oetting, “I never thought in a million years I would ever tell anybody don’t come to the city I’m representing.”
Because the city doesn’t know who runs short-term rentals, McComb hopes rental hosts do as the city asks.
“It’s an honor system,” said McComb. “We’ll find out who has honor and who doesn’t.”
The amended order runs through April 30th to match the Governor’s stay-at-home order. The mayor says if the state order is extended, the city will do the same.
Both McComb and Oetting expect a busy summer tourist season once the stay-at-home order is lifted.