WINK News file photo of red tide

Red tide & tourism: Are ads running for SWFL?

The green algae is impacting tourism in Southwest Florida. Are ads still running telling people to come visit, even with the water quality issues?

It’s no surprise algae and dead fish along the Southwest Florida shores are keeping people from heading out on the water.

“This time of the year, we’ve got four boats that are sitting here right now,” said Vince Biasella, of All Around Boat Rentals in Cape Coral.

Biasella said his small business is taking a huge hit, losing thousands of dollars per day.

“Sales right now are down about 60 percent from last year,”Biasella said. “They’re calling and they’re asking us should we cancel … and this is even getting into people from California that are coming in. they called wanting to cancel.”

And he’s not the only one seeing sales go down the drain thanks to Southwest Florida’s water issues.

Scott Safford, a hotel owner on Fort Myers Beach, said he’s felt the impacts.

“I had guests check in from Germany on Saturday and they spent one night and I want to be as transparent as possible in my business so I gave them their money back,” Safford said.

So is Southwest Florida still trying to sell perfection?

A Charlotte County spokesperson said they’re not including beaches in their advertising until red tide has passed.

A spokesperson for Lee County said while they haven’t canceled any advertising, they’re adjusting their social media messaging to highlight other activities off the beach.

“You have a business to support but on the other hand, you have to be truthful with your customers,” Biasella said.

In the meantime, businesses like Biasella’s are eagerly waiting on a resolution to the water emergency.

“I have two guys that work for us and they haven’t worked in three days because everything has just stopped,” Biasella said.

Reporter:Brooke Shafer
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