MN Hospitality Advocate

Star Tribune Columnist Highlights Vacation Homes

Posted in Lodging Issues, Resort Issues, State Laws, State Rules, Tourism Issues, Uncategorized, Vacation Home Rentals by hospitalityminnesota on July 4, 2010

In today’s Star Tribune Metro Section, columnist John Ewoldt touts vacation homes as an opportunity to enjoy the lake without the mortgage. He mentions http://www.VRBO.com, http://www.homeaway.com, http://www.greatrentals.com, http://www.vacationrentals.com and http://www.vacationrentals411.com.

I have seen several other recent references to vacation home rentals. Here’s what Ewoldt suggests: “Thanks to the recession, more second home owners have discovered that renting our their cabins, lake homes, condos and townhouses can make a second mortgage pay for itself.”

We argue the same and it is for this reason that the Minnesota Resort & Campground Association and Minnesota Lodging Association have for several years now pushed to have these properties regulated in the same manner as resorts, hotels and other licensed lodging facilities. The Minnesota Department of Health does have basic authority to license such facilities, but clarity in language would be helpful.

In the meantime, if you know of a vacation home being rented to the general public on a fairly consistent basis, please tell Gary Edwards, Minnesota Department of Health, (651) 201-4513, gary.edwards@state.mn.us.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations and Hospitality Minnesota

Hospitality and Tourism Day at the Capitol a Huge Success

We’ll start with the numbers: We had more than 215 restaurant, lodging, resort and campground operators at the Minnesota capitol yesterday as we lobbied on behalf of one of our state’s major industries. John Edman, Director of Explore Minnesota Tourism, reminded us in his remarks that the leisure and hospitality industry generates 16% of the state’s sales tax revenue, and is responsible for 10% of the state’s jobs.

Our industry advocates heard about a number of key issues in a morning briefing session. In addition to updates from our Lobbyists Tony Kwilas and Bob Vanasek and myself, we heard from Joan Archer, Executive Director of the Minnesota Beverage Association, about efforts to build a coalition highlighting the positive things our industry is doing in the area of obesity and fighting back anticipated sweetened beverage taxes. Other key issues we discussed included the Post Labor Day School Start, mandatory breaks and sick time, a multi-purpose stadium for the Minnesota Vikings and other events, ignition interlocks and vacation home rentals.

After tremendous visits on the hill, we wrapped up with a new legislative reception at the Kelly Inn featuring some 20 convention and visitor bureaus who did a beautiful job showcasing their communities and highlighting the importance of hospitality and tourism in communities across the state. Some 40-50 legislators attended the reception even in the midst of late-night committee meetings and a chaotic night before the final committee deadline.

I want to use this opportunity to thank the Hospitality Minnesota team for their tremendous efforts in creating a great event, and the Minnesota Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus for being tremendous partners.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations and Hospitality Minnesota

Vacation Home Rentals May See Solution

Posted in Lodging Issues, Resort Issues, State Laws, State Rules, Tourism Issues, Vacation Home Rentals by hospitalityminnesota on February 13, 2010

Over the past several years, the practice of renting out ones cabin to bring in revenue and offset property taxes and general maintenance expenses has become common. We call this vacation home rentals. In addition, websites have sprung up in significant numbers making it very easy for vacation homeowners to rent out their units (and many vacation homeowners have built their own sites.

For a good example, check out www.vrbo.com (vacation rental by owner). So why does our industry care? Because these vacation homes are now in the marketplace competing against private resorts and lodging properties, yet they do not have to meet the same regulatory requirements. They often do not collect sales tax, lodging tax, get inspected by the Department of  Health or meet DNR Shoreland Management standards.

The Minnesota Department of Health has the authority under current statute to inspect these properties, but has only recently begun to do so. In part it’s a manpower issue – they simply don’t have enough folks to chase down every private homeowner.  And in part, it’s because the problem has only become evident as the Internet has grown and the cost of entry into the marketplace has declined.

The Minnesota Resort and Campground Association and Minnesota Lodging Association care a great deal about this issue. Level playing field and public safety are key elements of the discussion. The Department of Health is preparing to move forward with some technical corrections to existing statute that will clarify their existing authority to inspect. It’s a great first step in ensuring that Minnesota’s vacationers are in safe facilities.

We’ll keep you posted as the initiative progresses.

David Siegel, CAE, IOM
Minnesota Restaurant, Lodging and Resort & Campground Associations and Hospitality Minnesota