Worst red tide outbreak in decades hurts Florida's economy, tourism
By Chaffin Mitchell, AccuWeather staff writer
September 04, 2018, 2:34:51 PM EDT
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The longest red tide outbreak for the west coast of Florida in over a decade is killing wildlife and hurting business and tourism on the Gulf shores of the Sunshine State.
The red tide is affecting nearby businesses and much larger marine life than what usually suffers from the toxic algae. People aren't heading to the beach or restaurants because the normally crystal clear water is murky, and the smell of rotting fish reeks.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in August for seven counties and allocated half a million dollars to the state’s tourism marketing corporation to help local communities bring in visitors, as well as $900,000 to Lee County to clean up the affected areas.
In a recently released survey, businesses in Sarasota County reported losses of up to 6 percent compared to last year, which they have attributed to the bloom.
Visit Sarasota, the official tourism agency for Sarasota County, has conducted a survey of 450 businesses. The majority reported a collapse in revenue due to the fish kills and odor.
Of the 40 respondents to the survey, 95 percent reported losing business because of the red tide. The businesses surveyed reported losses of up to 6 percent the first week of August, compared with the same period last year, according to Visit Sarasota County.
In Sarasota, the survey found that dozens of local hotels had seen reservations canceled due to red tide concerns.
According to reports, many restaurants have been offering special deals and events to draw people back to the beach.
Star Fish Company, a Seafood Market and Dockside Restaurant in the fishing village of Cortez, Florida, offered 30 percent off of dine-in bills during certain days of the week.
Was your #smallbiz impacted by the algal bloom and/or red tide? We encourage you to complete the following survey to provide important information of how the events are affecting your local business operations ----> https://t.co/8vwkwbBrJb @FLDEO pic.twitter.com/RA4CVtlI5d— Florida SBDC Network (@FloridaSBDCN) August 21, 2018
Once a week, a food bank has been showing up to areas affected in order to feed the thousands of people affected by red tide.
What is red tide?
Florida governor declares state of emergency to combat worst red tide in over 10 years
Red tide outbreak triggers state of emergency in Florida as hundreds of marine mammals are dying
High concentrations of toxic algae, known as blooms, have affected at least 120 miles of the peninsula’s Gulf of Mexico coast since November 2017.
More than 2,000 tons of dead marine animals have been cleared from the coast, according to cleanup reports. Since July, 267 tons of marine life, including thousands of small fish, dolphins, 72 Goliath groupers, sea turtles and a 21-foot whale shark have washed up on the beach.
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