Lee county will use social media, instead of spending big money on a traditional advertising campaign, to spread the word that our beaches are clear of oil.
The decision came Thursday at a meeting of the Lee Tourism Development Council.
"We want to use Twitter, Facebook and live video feeds from cameras on the beach, to show people, we are fine," said Tamara Pigott, director of the Lee Visitor and Convention Bureau. "We can always do more, later, if necessary."
That upsets at least one business on Fort Myers Beach. Kaliopi Neskes, mgr. at Plaka Restaurant, says Lee should move aggressively with an ad campaign to let people know, the oil is hundreds of miles away.
"We need them helping us, we are facing summer and facing a loss of business. We should be aggressive in getting out the word, we have no oil, we are up and running," said Neskes.
Others disagree. Ronnie Lanoff works at a clothing store on the beach. "People need to react, but not over-react. I think it's okay to use the social media and not to be drawing extra attention to the spill. Over-reaction is just going to get people more worked up over the whole thing," said Lanoff.
Also on Thursday, the tourism group heard some encouraging news about visitors during March.
More visitors stayed in hotels than in March of '09. And hotels are projecting more growth in bookings in the coming months. "I think we are seeing pent-up demand, helping us. People can put off their vacations only so long, and then, they have to come to our beaches. That is very pleasing to us," said Pigott.