Business and tourism groups have cash on hand and projects ready to go once the toxic algae dissipates.
As red tide lingers on in the Gulf, local and state officials have prepared plans to help businesses and habitats in the area recover. They say they’re ready for action — but are stuck waiting for red tide to dissipate before they can move away from quick-fix solutions and offer long-term help.
Kelly Clark, director of communications at the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said her organization is ready to launch an ad campaign as soon as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says red tide has dispersed. In the meantime, the bureau has been running a campaign to drive people living on the mainland to visit Anna Maria Island and take advantage of restaurant deals, she said.
“For the island, tourism is their bread and butter,” Clark said. “With not a lot of tourism coming, we’re trying to do the best we can to keep an influx people going in and creating a bit of an economic impact in the area.”
Visit Florida, the state’s tourism-marketing organization, has set up a $500,000 program to help local tourism development boards like Clark’s bureau. Erin Duggan, vice president of Visit Sarasota County, said they have already received a $50,000 grant from the fund and have applied for more.