Bay Area tourism suffers from algae bloom news

- Florida’s coastal beach resorts said calls are coming in from travelers, asking if the widely-reported algae bloom is affecting their area.

Fortunately, the answer is ‘no’ for those in the Bay Area, but resort managers said the negative press is still having an effect.

News reports worldwide have shown images of  the slimy, green algae blanketing waters and shorelines  around Stuart and other parts of the Treasure Coast.

"How is it going to impact the rest of Florida if the imagery continues?" asked Keith Overton, president of Tradewinds Island Resorts on St Pete Beach. "It's much like what happed with the oil spill, when there really wasn't a problem here, but everybody painted the whole state as covered in it."

Overton said the impact of the algae hasn't approached what the oil spill did to tourism here, but he said if water in the Everglades isn’t cleaned up, the algae could come back again and again.

"The state of Florida and the federal government have not done what they should have done to solve that problem," he said.

The algae bloom is caused by fertilizer-rich runoff from crops, like sugar cane, in the Everglades. It gets into Lake Okeechobee, which then flows to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

Ft. Myers and Sanibel, on the Caloosahatchee on the west coast, have felt some effects. Hardest hit are the east coast communities near Stuart, and other communities on the St. Lucie. 

Overton said most visitors to his resort over the holiday weekend were Floridians who knew the geography, but for potential vacationers from other states, pictures of green slime on TV could change their minds about a trip to Florida.

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