LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Southwest Florida-based tourism companies are hoping to do big business this Labor Day weekend, despite the recent murky water threatening to turn visitors away.
AAA expects this year's Labor Day travel to be at its highest level since the recession.
Locals and out-of-towners say it's no secret there are concerns about the appearance of Southwest Florida's water, due to those freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee. Businesses plan to make the most of the situation. People in Southwest Florida say they've seen the effect dark cloudy water can have on the beach crowd.
"For the last couple weeks, we've seen the water is kinda murky and I miss the people coming here," said Cape Coral reisdent Charles Stec.
A number of Fort Myers Beach businesses, which rely on tourists coming to check out pristine views, hope the freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee haven't diluted their patrons.
"I can guarantee you today, I'll probably get three or four comments from people just browsing through the store and asking me the question, 'What's wrong with the water?'," said shop employee Donna Lybold.
Most Southwest Floridians say the change in how the water looks is apparent, and while some out-of-towners are commenting, others don't care.
"If I saw dead animals, yes, I would be concerned, but no not at all," said Jewell Marsh and Joe Mills, of Delaware.
Naples fishing guide, Joe Cassaro, is launching his new kayaking company, Yak the Glades, this Labor Day weekend, and is expecting a flood of customers.
After spending a lot of time on the water, he's noticed the ecological impacts of more freshwater on his trails, but is not letting that affect his overall catch.
Today is supposed to be the big day for travel, with 46 percent of people hitting the roads and taking to the skies. All together, AAA estimates about 34.1 million people will take a trip at least 50 miles from home. Many locals plan to stay right here.