From the Orlando Sentinel:
Vacation homes are the wild card in Central Florida's lodging industry -- practically everyone in the travel business acknowledges their proliferation, but nobody concretely knows how many of them are out there.
The hotel industry has long suspected that the growing popularity of vacation homes has held down occupancy levels in conventional lodging.
The homes, which look identical to year-round residents' houses and condos, are instead used as short-term rentals, offering vacationers privacy and residential conveniences at prices that often undercut hotel rooms.
Steve Trover, chief executive officer of All Star Vacation Homes in Kissimmee, estimates that between 25,000 and 30,000 vacation homes are available in Central Florida.
Trover says that, even if the economy cools this year, vacation homes are likely to suffer less than hotels because they are often more economical for families vacationing in groups and are very popular with the British, whose currency is faring unusually well against the U.S. dollar.