Lee County to spend a million dollars to market the area to tourists

LEE COUNTY, Fla., - As images of blue green algae and fish kills from local beaches continue to garner national attention.

*CORRECTION* On August 21, the Board will consider several agenda items that will use Tourist Development Tax reserve funds for beach cleanup and marketing. The Lee County Tourist Development Council met Thursday and voted on the following recommendations to the Board to approve:

  • Funding necessary to cover emergency beach clean-up expenses through the end of fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30.
  • Up to $1 million for a marketing campaign to launch after current conditions improve.

“We have to do something,” said Cecil Pendergrass, Lee County Commission Chairman. “To make sure we can tell people beaches are back open, everything is clean, it’s okay to create the air and come back here and enjoy our great area.”

But is a good marketing campaign enough to convince people Southwest Florida is the best place to spend their vacation days and their money?

“While you can utilize marketing, it’s one thing to make the promise, it’s another thing to fulfill it.” said Christopher Spiro, with Spiro and Associates in Fort Myers. 

“So if we go out and say our beaches are clean, our water is pristine, they better be clean and pristine.”

Tourism is a big moneymaker for Lee County, bringing in about 3 billion dollars last year.

Spiro says another key demographic  - snowbirds - may be affected if the water quality doesn’t improve.

“If you start getting to November, December, January, and you have the same issues, that’s gonna be an issue.”

Pendergrass says he’s confident Lee County will recover from this just like it did from the BP oil spill and from Irma.

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