CHARLOTTE COUNTY- These days, just about everybody is feeling the impacts of rising gas prices.
But in Charlotte County where so much of the tourism industry relies on fishing, business owners say that rising gas prices could start to affect business.
Fishin' Frank has been in the business of bait and tackle his whole life. He knows that what he sells is not what some people would call a priority to survive.
"Were a big toy store, this is what you want, not what you need, so were one of the first to get cut back," Frank said.
He tells WINK News that increasing gas prices have been pushing his customers away: "You figure that we're going to lose a third... 30 – 50 percent of our business is not going to show up," Frank said.
Frank says that more fishermen are staying on shore to cast their lines and those who do go out in boats are also worried about fuel costs.
Cayle Wills just got his charter boat license in Charlotte County. He knows that he is facing an uphill battle.
WIlls says that sometimes people balk at the price of a charter tour.
"A lot of these guys are charging accordingly," Wills said. "A lot of people think its a premium, 300-400 dollars for a whole day trip."
And With charter fishermen facing higher fuel costs, fishing itself could get more expensive.
That could mean trouble for Charlotte County tourism Charlotte County tourism director Lorah Steiner is just two weeks on the job, but she is already putting a plan together to address the gas prices.
"Were sending out a survey to all of our industry partners whether they are in fishing beaches hotels to say how is this affecting you," Steiner said. She plans to use the results of those surveys to build a strategy to lure more local tourists to the area.
Meanwhile, Fishin' Frank says that all he can do is wait it out.
"Hold on and see what happens," Frank said. "The gas company has got us by the fuel nozzle and we are really really tight with this."
Although business owners and community leaders are keeping a close watch on the fuel prices, they say that they won't really know how tourism will be impacted until Tarpon season ramps up in May.