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Lee County to discuss million-dollar advertising campaign in wake of algae, red tide

Lee County commissioners will discuss a million-dollar advertising campaign that would specifically target water quality concerns among tourists Monday.

The money for the campaign would come from reserve funds.

Last week Gov. Rick Scott granted half a million dollars to Visit Florida to help the tourism industry.

Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach report they’ve lost millions in business since the fill kills began.

Joey Almeia, owner of Joey’s Custard on Sanibel says business is down 70 percent, “It is difficult in these times to stay on course, that is hopeful.”

Just down the road, Billy Kirkland is owner of popular Billy’s Rentals, a bike rental shop on Sanibel, but today, the parking lot is largely empty and he says this is not normal, “Going back for the last six years, I’m averaging about 45 to 50 percent down over previous years, starting from July 18 through August 20.”

Despite hard times, people are confident the area will bounce back.

“I think it will definitely get back up, the tourists the industry give it a little bit, give it a little bit of time,” said Elyse Perl.

The campaign would start after the beaches and water clear up.

Both Kirkland and Almeida are hopeful the county will restore order this upcoming season and they will see big bounce backs.

“Just knowing that the local governments does have your back and they are stepping up and going to bat for us not only as business owners but as locals that live here year-round it’s something that we appreciate,” Kirkland  said.

We spoke with Lee County officials, and they tell say they’ll begin advertising once they have our waterways clean.

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