July 20, 2007
While we are lucky enough to enjoy Florida year-round, there are many who just want the opportunity to live here for a week or two each year without the responsibilities of homeownership. Our department regulates the timeshare industry, and the industry has a major economic impact on the state. In 2006, U.S. timeshare sales reached a record $10 billion, and Florida purchases accounted for almost a quarter of that!
In addition to purchasing timeshares, timeshare owners spend a significant amount of money when they visit, thereby boosting Florida’s economy. According to the American Resort Development Association, when timeshare parties visit, they spend an average of $1,768 per trip, with $153 going to the timeshare resort and $1,615 going to other businesses and attractions. In 2005 alone, 7.9 million timeshare vacationers came to Florida and spent an average of $2,062 per trip, according to Mike Cochran, our Director of the Division of Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes.
This week we visited with Robin Suarez, Vice President & Associate General Counsel for Registrations and Government Relations for Starwood Vacation Ownership, and she told us about this booming industry. For many people, timeshares offer the convenience of a home away from home without the hassle of home ownership, but in a majority of resorts the ownership interest will still include a deeded interest in real estate. In the early days of the timeshare industry, owners bought the same week every year in the same resort, but now owners can purchase the right to a future vacation that varies in length and can vary in location. The purchases are usually in the form of points that can be redeemed during select times of the year. Many of the major developers, including Starwood, Marriott and Hilton, link their points program with other lodging and travel loyalty programs so owners get multiple benefits. Many of the major developers also have resorts across the country and around the world, and timeshare owners are given the opportunity to vary their vacation experience by visiting the other resorts.
Timeshares are part of a larger vacation home market that continues to evolve. The market now includes vacation homes, fractional ownership interests, destination clubs, timeshares and condo hotels, and each appeals to different financial interests and personal preferences. The vacation home market brings diversity and vitality to Florida’s already booming travel economy.
This industry has evolved significantly since timeshares first became popular in the 1970s, and Robin said that Florida has some of the most progressive laws and rules governing these developments. Our team in the Division of Land Sales, Condominiums and Mobile Homes will continue to set high standards for our year-round and week-long residents
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