Sharks and an Airbnb tax take bites from Cape Cod summer rental market

By Megan Cerullo

/ MoneyWatch

How Cape Cod is defending against sharks

A lamentable combination of sharks and taxes are scaring away would-be summer visitors to Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The number of vacation home renters for the summer season is down by as much as 30% in some communities on the Cape, according to local real estate agents. Hotel, motel and bed & breakfast stays are down 5% Cape-wide through May, according to the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.

"I would say it's slow. Our numbers are down compared to the same period last year, and there is a multitude of reasons," Wendy Northcross, chief executive officer of the Cape Cod Chamber, told CBS MoneyWatch. "People are concerned that sharks are a deterrent, and we also have a new short-term rental tax that started in July."

Trending News

Last year, Arthur Medici, 26, was killed by a great white shark while riding waves off Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet. His was the first shark-attack death in Massachusetts since 1936. More sharks have since been spotted off of the Cape, and lifeguards are urging visitors to be vigilant by swimming in groups and steering clear of seals. There has even been talk of culling the Cape's seal population to cut off sharks' food supply.

Great white sharks spotted off Cape Cod

"At some level, it must have a psychological impact [on visitors]," Northcross said. "The new tax, sharks and bad weather are at the top of the list of deterrents."

The tax she refers to took effect July 1 under a new law that extends Massachusetts' hotel and motel tax to short-term home rentals via Airbnb and other rental sites — and has had the effect of deterring some visitors, the Boston Globe reported.

"I think it has certainly had an effect," said Debra Martin of Mid Cape Rentals. "Some tenants feel they are paying a rental and cleaning fee and now they have to pay the tax."

"There is definitely fear mongering out there"

The South Yarmouth-based realtor hopes that visitors will adapt to the new law after a season or two. "I think that's a short-lived issue that people will become more used to. It will be part of their budget when they think about the summer after a season or two," she said.

Of course shark sightings don't help either. "People are afraid. They say, 'If I come down, will I be able to go in the ocean?'"

John Salsberg, who owns a second home in Wellfleet, says that for once, he's enjoying use of his own home after he tried but failed to rent it out for the week of June 29.

Warming waters may be changing shark migration patterns

"For a family trying to rent for a week on the Cape, a 12.45% tax is prohibitively high," he said. "And I don't know about the sharks, but there is definitely fear mongering out there and I think that scares some people."

His rental income is down this year compared to previous seasons, but isn't seeking sympathy, acknowledging that "this is a first-world problem."

It's hard to determine exactly how many people have been scared off by sharks, or even measure exactly how big of a deterrent the new tax has been.

"I do think the sharks play a part, but I don't now how big a part," said Kinlin Grover real estate agent Jane Booth. "We definitely had some repeat tenants call and say they weren't returning because the sharks scared their children," she said.

It's impossible to quantify how many would-be visitors never called in the first place.

"Somebody who would have been new to the Cape and read all the stories and decided to go elsewhere — we don't know what is lost because they never reach out in the first place," Booth said. "It's an unknown."

First published on July 30, 2019 / 1:35 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc.. All Rights Reserved.

Democratic Virginia state delegate interrupts Trump's speech

State delegate Ibraheem Samirah called President Trump the "racist-in-chief" in a statement

1M ago U.S. President Trump attends event celebrating 400th anniversary of Virginia state legislature's first meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia dahler-cape-cod-shark-attack-bulk-rem304-frame-21852.jpg

Sharks bite into Cape Cod summer rental market

Cape Cod shark sightings and new taxes on short-term home rentals keep would-be vacationers at bay this summer season

4M ago dahler-cape-cod-shark-attack-bulk-rem304-frame-21852.jpg screen-shot-2019-07-30-at-12-33-30-pm.png

Cardi B and Bernie Sanders meet to talk politics

Cardi B has often shared her love for American history and politics – and the urgency of getting young people to participate in the 2020 presidential election

55M ago screen-shot-2019-07-30-at-12-33-30-pm.png salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg

Biggest source of salmonella outbreaks? It's clucking in U.S. backyards

Raising poultry at home is the leading cause of sickness from salmonella, far exceeding infections from pre-cut melons

updated 54M ago salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg 015-rtr3gd2i.jpg

Boy charged with assault over dodgeball game

Months after the boy was suspended from his elementary school, his mom was notified he received a criminal charge

1H ago 015-rtr3gd2i.jpg U.S. President Trump attends event celebrating 400th anniversary of Virginia state legislature's first meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia

Democratic Virginia state delegate interrupts Trump's speech

State delegate Ibraheem Samirah called President Trump the "racist-in-chief" in a statement

1M ago U.S. President Trump attends event celebrating 400th anniversary of Virginia state legislature's first meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia screen-shot-2019-07-30-at-12-33-30-pm.png

Cardi B and Bernie Sanders meet to talk politics

Cardi B has often shared her love for American history and politics – and the urgency of getting young people to participate in the 2020 presidential election

55M ago screen-shot-2019-07-30-at-12-33-30-pm.png The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen March 23, 2017, in Washington.

DCCC loses top staffer amid diversity woes

Bustos called the resignation of its executive director a "sobering day filled with tough conversations that too often we avoid"

2H ago The dome of the U.S. Capitol is seen March 23, 2017, in Washington. cbsn-fusion-john-kelly-joins-board-of-detention-center-operator-thumbnail-1843094-640x360.jpg

Lawsuit seeks info on John Kelly's ties to company housing migrants

Lawsuit follows an exclusive CBS News report in May that the former White House chief of staff had joined the board of the nation's only for-profit company holding unaccompanied migrant kids

1H ago cbsn-fusion-john-kelly-joins-board-of-detention-center-operator-thumbnail-1843094-640x360.jpg U.S. President Trump attends event celebrating 400th anniversary of Virginia state legislature's first meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia

Trump speaks at Jamestown anniversary event

He tweeted ahead of his speech that Democrats will make his visit "as uncomfortable as possible"

updated 35M ago U.S. President Trump attends event celebrating 400th anniversary of Virginia state legislature's first meeting in Williamsburg, Virginia seesaw.jpg

Artist installs seesaws at U.S.-Mexico border wall

Kids in Sunland Park, New Mexico were able to seesaw with kids in Anapra, Mexico

1H ago seesaw.jpg cbsn-fusion-john-kelly-joins-board-of-detention-center-operator-thumbnail-1843094-640x360.jpg

Lawsuit seeks info on John Kelly's ties to company housing migrants

Lawsuit follows an exclusive CBS News report in May that the former White House chief of staff had joined the board of the nation's only for-profit company holding unaccompanied migrant kids

1H ago cbsn-fusion-john-kelly-joins-board-of-detention-center-operator-thumbnail-1843094-640x360.jpg siberia-wildfire-russia.jpg

Vast wildfires in Siberia a potential "disaster" for global climate

"The more fires affect the climate, the more conditions are created for new dangerous fires," environmental activist warns

2H ago siberia-wildfire-russia.jpg IRAN-US-SANCTIONS

U.S. sanctions leave Iranians without life-saving medicines

The Trump administration pulling out of the nuclear deal and imposing stronger sanctions have ravaged the Iranian economy

2H ago IRAN-US-SANCTIONS Hurricane Erick, center left, and Tropical Storm Flossie churn in the Pacific Ocean in an infrared satellite image captured at 9 a.m. ET on July 30, 2019.

Hurricane heads toward Hawaii as tropical storm churns in Pacific

Hurricane Erick has strengthened into a Category 3 storm and was expected to gain more strength

1H ago Hurricane Erick, center left, and Tropical Storm Flossie churn in the Pacific Ocean in an infrared satellite image captured at 9 a.m. ET on July 30, 2019. screen-shot-2019-07-30-at-12-33-30-pm.png

Cardi B and Bernie Sanders meet to talk politics

Cardi B has often shared her love for American history and politics – and the urgency of getting young people to participate in the 2020 presidential election

55M ago screen-shot-2019-07-30-at-12-33-30-pm.png A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky pleads not guilty to assault in Sweden

American rapper is accused of attacking a man on a Stockholm street, and even before the trial began he was backed by President Trump

7H ago A$AP Rocky 3

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream soon

Jun 24 30 photos 3 Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X breaks Billboard record with "Old Town Road"

Breakthrough rapper's viral song "Old Town Road" overtook the Billboard record set by Mariah Carey's "One Sweet Day​" for most weeks at No. 1

20H ago Lil Nas X BRITAIN-ROYAL-TROOPING

Meghan Markle guest edits British Vogue

Meghan Markle's issue of British Vogue is entitled "Forces for Change," highlighting women breaking barriers

Jul 29 BRITAIN-ROYAL-TROOPING FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. offices are pictured in Atlanta

Con artists already running fake Equifax settlement websites

Determining if you're among the 147 million Americans entitled to compensation for 2017 breach takes only seconds

1H ago FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. offices are pictured in Atlanta 6275435.jpg

Have a Capital One credit card? Take these 5 steps

If you're a Capital One customer, consider adding extra levels of security to keep scammers from misusing your data

4H ago 6275435.jpg computer.jpg

Capital One data breach hits more than 100 million people

The hacker got information including credit scores and balances plus the Social Security numbers of about 140,000 customers

14H ago computer.jpg HONG KONG-UBER-TAXI-COURT

Uber lays off 400 people from its marketing team

Ride-hailing company blames its losses partly on costly promotions to attract riders and drivers

20H ago HONG KONG-UBER-TAXI-COURT Fortnite World Cup Finals - Final Round

Pennsylvania teen wins $3 million at Fortnite World Cup

Kyle "Bugha" Giersdorf scored 26 more points than runner-up "psalm" to take home the title Sunday night in New York City

23H ago Fortnite World Cup Finals - Final Round siberia-wildfire-russia.jpg

Vast wildfires in Siberia a potential "disaster" for global climate

"The more fires affect the climate, the more conditions are created for new dangerous fires," environmental activist warns

2H ago siberia-wildfire-russia.jpg Nebraska man finds 2.12 carat diamond at Arkansas state park

Nebraska man finds 2.12 carat diamond at state park

John Lanik discovered the largest diamond found in the state park this year

16H ago Nebraska man finds 2.12 carat diamond at Arkansas state park perseids in night time

Double meteor showers will light up the sky tonight

The dueling showers will bring up to 25 meteors per hour

Jul 29 perseids in night time california-condor-409-zion-national-park-promo.jpg

Nature up close: Rescuing the California condor

Almost 40 years ago there were 22 birds left; today the species' population has increased dramatically

Jul 28 california-condor-409-zion-national-park-promo.jpg 0727-ctm-lasvegasgrasshoppers-1899263-640x360.jpg

Swarms of grasshoppers invade Vegas: "It was crazy"

A migration of mild-mannered grasshoppers sweeping through the Las Vegas area is being attributed to wet weather several months ago

Jul 27 0727-ctm-lasvegasgrasshoppers-1899263-640x360.jpg salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg

Biggest source of salmonella outbreaks? It's clucking in U.S. backyards

Raising poultry at home is the leading cause of sickness from salmonella, far exceeding infections from pre-cut melons

updated 54M ago salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg d3-nod-farmers-neighbors-072919en-frame-13.jpg

Farmers harvest crop for neighbor battling cancer

The neighbors did three weeks worth of work in just six hours

18H ago d3-nod-farmers-neighbors-072919en-frame-13.jpg b3-lenghi-hot-car-death-072919en-cut-2-frame-861.jpg

Death of 1-year-old twins puts spotlight on hot car dangers

Father Juan Rodriguez is facing manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges in the deaths of his son and daughter

18H ago b3-lenghi-hot-car-death-072919en-cut-2-frame-861.jpg Modern building hallway, unfocused background

Nurse says people should be "scared" by private equity firms

Philadelphia's 171-year-old Hahnemann Hospital was sold to a private equity firm — now it may become luxury condos

23H ago Modern building hallway, unfocused background ctm-clean-8am-cr470c-20190729-frame-30651.jpg

Research links widely-used drugs to a nearly 50% higher risk of dementia

An estimated 1 in 4 older adults take anticholinergic drugs

21H ago ctm-clean-8am-cr470c-20190729-frame-30651.jpg dahler-cape-cod-shark-attack-bulk-rem304-frame-21852.jpg

Sharks bite into Cape Cod summer rental market

Cape Cod shark sightings and new taxes on short-term home rentals keep would-be vacationers at bay this summer season

4M ago dahler-cape-cod-shark-attack-bulk-rem304-frame-21852.jpg salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg

Biggest source of salmonella outbreaks? It's clucking in U.S. backyards

Raising poultry at home is the leading cause of sickness from salmonella, far exceeding infections from pre-cut melons

updated 54M ago salmonellapoultry-456px.jpg Women's World Cup trophy

U.S. Soccer: Women paid millions more than men

According to a letter released by U.S. Soccer President Carlos Cordeiro, the federation paid out more in salary and game bonuses to the women between 2010 and 2018

1H ago Women's World Cup trophy FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. offices are pictured in Atlanta

Con artists already running fake Equifax settlement websites

Determining if you're among the 147 million Americans entitled to compensation for 2017 breach takes only seconds

1H ago FILE PHOTO: Credit reporting company Equifax Inc. offices are pictured in Atlanta Home_improvement_projects_with_big_payoffs.jpg

Home improvement scams top latest list of consumer complaints

When corrupt contractors overcharge for subpar work, the costs can spiral into the hundreds of thousands of dollars

1H ago Home_improvement_projects_with_big_payoffs.jpg 0730-cbsn-mcsallyabouthyten-1901044-640x360.jpg

Crime

Sen. Martha McSally defends Gen. Hyten

At Gen. John Hyten's confirmation hearing, Republican Senator Martha McSally, a survivor of military sexual assault, said Hyten was the right man for the job as vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

1H ago 01:24 0730-cbsn-mcsallyabouthyten-1901044-640x360.jpg 0730-cbsn-hytendeniesallegations-1901000-640x360.jpg

Gen. Hyten denies misconduct allegations

At his confirmation hearing, Gen. John Hyten, President Trump's nominee for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, categorically denied the sexual misconduct allegations against him, calling them false.

1H ago 00:26 0730-cbsn-hytendeniesallegations-1901000-640x360.jpg 0730-cbsn-policesearchformotivegilroy-1900994-640x360.jpg

Searching for motive in California shooting

Investigators are still working to determine the motive behind a deadly shooting at a California food festival on Sunday. Officials say Santino William Legan posted at least two photos on Instagram the day of the shooting, including one that referred to a book popular among white nationalist groups. CBS News correspondent Jamie Yuccas joined CBSN with the latest on the investigation.

1H ago 05:14 0730-cbsn-policesearchformotivegilroy-1900994-640x360.jpg walmart-shooting-eauuyykx4amnwrn.jpg

2 killed, 2 wounded in shooting at Walmart in Mississippi

Both of the people who died Tuesday morning were reportedly Walmart employees

updated 19M ago walmart-shooting-eauuyykx4amnwrn.jpg 0730-ctm-italymurderteens-doane-1900812-640x360.jpg

New details in murder of Italian cop

We’re learning new details about the alleged murder of an Italian police officer by two American teenagers. Police say Finnegan Lee Elder and Gabriel Christian Natale-Hjorth had been drinking, and at least one of them had taken drugs before encountering the officer. Seth Doane reports.

5H ago 02:41 0730-ctm-italymurderteens-doane-1900812-640x360.jpg 0430-en-asteroidpractice.jpg

"City killer" asteroid misses Earth – and scientists had no idea

Scientists revealed an asteroid dubbed by some as a "city killer" came closer to the Earth than the moon this week

16H ago 0430-en-asteroidpractice.jpg US-MEXICO-CINCO DE MAYO

New Mexico chiles to be grown in space

The "Española Improved" chile plant will be the first fruiting plant that the U.S. will grow aboard the Space Station

Jul 27 US-MEXICO-CINCO DE MAYO 072719-dragon2.jpg

SpaceX cargo ship reaches space station

SpaceX cargo ship brings 2.5 tons of supplies and equipment to space station

Jul 28 072719-dragon2.jpg cbsn-fusion-spacex-launches-falcon-9-rocket-today-2019-07-25-thumbnail-1898411-640x360.jpg

SpaceX launches Falcon 9 rocket

Thursday's launch marks SpaceX's 18th cargo run to the International Space Station. The Dragon supply ship atop the Falcon 9 was making its third trip to the lab complex, this time loaded with 5,000 pounds of crew supplies, equipment and high-tech science gear, including a low-tech container of bright green Nickelodeon "slime" for educational outreach. Watch the rocket launch here.

Jul 25 09:29 cbsn-fusion-spacex-launches-falcon-9-rocket-today-2019-07-25-thumbnail-1898411-640x360.jpg spacex-launch-today.png

SpaceX launches supplies — and slime — to space station

SpaceX Dragon cargo ship was loaded with 5,000 pounds of equipment and supplies — including a container of bright green Nickelodeon "slime"

Jul 25 spacex-launch-today.png jake-barlow-oddities-and-curiosities-expo-39.jpg

The Oddities & Curiosities Expo

A traveling exhibition of gothic and occult art, sideshow performers, and bizarre specimens stopped outside Chicago, where CBS News photographer Jake Barlow took in the odd sights

Jul 22 24 photos jake-barlow-oddities-and-curiosities-expo-39.jpg gettyimages-486106944.jpg

New York's Central Park

America's first major landscaped public park, the 840-acre park in Manhattan welcomes more than 37 million visitors every year

Jul 21 25 photos gettyimages-486106944.jpg Charles Manson

Manson Family murders: The terrifying story in pictures

A look at the cult slayings that shocked – and scared – America

Jul 3 44 photos Charles Manson star-trek.jpg

New on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon

Shows and movies you'll want to stream soon

Jun 24 30 photos star-trek.jpg danroy-dj-henry.jpg

Evidence photos from the police shooting of Danroy "DJ" Henry Jr.

Evidence from the scene of Pace University student DJ Henry’s fatal encounter with Officer Aaron Hess in Mount Pleasant, N.Y.

Jun 22 19 photos danroy-dj-henry.jpg wright-911-call-1567128-640x360.jpg

Popular

NBA star's desperate call for help

Listen to former NBA star Lorenzen Wright’s frantic 911 call made on the night in 2010 that he was murdered. Wright was unable to give his name or location as 11 gunshots are heard before the call cuts out. It took days for authorities to learn that it was Wright who made the call.

Jul 27 00:40 wright-911-call-1567128-640x360.jpg wright-murder-plot-1567134-640x360.jpg

The alleged plot to kill Lorenzen Wright

Prosecutor Paul Hagerman reads an affidavit about informant Jimmie Martin who claims he helped plan the murder of Lorenzen Wright. Martin is Sherra Wright’s cousin. Martin claims he wasn’t there the night of the murder, but says he did help clean up the crime scene.

Jul 27 01:37 wright-murder-plot-1567134-640x360.jpg lulu-arrest-1683015-640x360.jpg

Body cam video captures murder-for-hire suspect's arrest

On July 23, 2015, detectives with the Montgomery County Texas Constable's Office arrive at the Houston gym owned by Ramon Sosa and his wife, Lulu, to arrest Lulu on suspicion of plotting her husband's death.

Jul 20 03:29 lulu-arrest-1683015-640x360.jpg leibel-kasian-1674771-640x360.jpg

Sneak peek: Hollywood Horror Story

A wealthy Hollywood producer is accused of murdering his girlfriend. Was he following the plot of his frightening novel? Correspondent Maureen Maher investigates Saturday, July 13 at 10/9c on CBS.

Jul 13 03:37 leibel-kasian-1674771-640x360.jpg kasian-911-call-1674933-640x360.jpg

A mother's desperate 911 call

When Olga Kasian did not hear from her daughter Iana after several days, she began repeatedly calling 911. Concerned about Iana's well-being and her recent C-section, Kasian desperately asks police — through the help of an Russian interpreter — to enter the home her daughter shared with boyfriend Blake Leibel.

Jul 20 01:14 kasian-911-call-1674933-640x360.jpg