Florida tourism agencies fight perception that red tide is everywhere

- Tourism experts from different cities across Florida are heading to New York City next week to learn new ways to market the Sunshine State to millennials. The trip is part of a larger effort by Visit Florida to drive business to the state amid the nationwide perception that red tide has impacted all of Florida's beaches.

While red tide has drastically subsided at Bay Area beaches, new reports from other parts of the Gulf Coast and even Miami continue to sew doubt in the minds of tourists.

People are visiting Hillsborough County at record-breaking rates. Visit Tampa Bay said the county collected nearly $34 million in tourist development taxes in the last fiscal year, which is a 10.8 percent jump from the previous year.

Visit Tampa Bay president and CEO Santiago Corrada said they are marketing the area as a destination for conventions, leisure travel, and financial investment, which drives visitors to spend money in the local hotel, restaurant, and retail industries.

Corrada said they plan to keep the growth streak going next week at the Florida Sunshine Shuffle event.

"We know adventure-seekers and quality experiences matter. So, we've got a team heading up to New York," said Corrada. "You know we're about culture, we're about history, we're about art lovers. We're about adventure seekers that don't necessarily have to do with the beaches and the red tide effects."

Visit Tampa Bay and other tourism agencies are now working with Visit Florida to make sure tourists know red tide is not everywhere.

For Visit Tampa Bay, having options -- like the Florida Aquarium, three major league sports teams, museums, breweries and more -- is a perk that tourists feed into.  

Corrada said 10 out of the last 12 months set records for tourism in Tampa. In the last year, the tourism organization generated more than 180,000 additional visits to the area and a record $84.5 million in spending with the 'Florida’s Most' campaign in New York, Chicago, and other northern cities.

Visit Tampa Bay said it is also launching marketing campaigns in the northeast and Canada since potential visitors will be looking to escape the cold winter months.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly included Visit Pasco as one of the agencies working with Visit Florida. This version has been updated.

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