Collier County Tourism Bureau discusses how Coronavirus fears

Posted at 10:52 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-05 08:37:00-05

NAPLES, Fla. — One look at the beach and the traffic in Naples, and you know there is no shortage of visitors right now, it's the same situation on the city's famous Fifth Avenue, and tourism officials want to keep it this way.

The head of the Collier Tourism Bureau tells Fox 4 their main focus is making sure local businesses have their facts straight before they are asked about it.

"So that they know when they get questions from potential visitors or people that are really wondering whether or not they should travel, just some basic facts," said Jack Wert, Executive Director for the Collier County Tourism Bureau.

They are also gearing up to get more money to spend on social media as a way to smack down online rumors that could keep visitors away.

"And try to mitigate any mid information that there is out there so that they are aware as well that it is okay to travel here. If that's the situation, if we have something more that comes up either later in the week or next week, we'll change that messaging", said Wert.

In other words, if Florida starts to see more cases, they'll be ready.

"If it gets worse, if these are cases that popped up here, or if it's people that traveled here, we will address those in different messaging depending on that situation," said Wert.

The tourism bureau in Collier County has some experience with how "fear" can affect trips. Back when the B.P. oil spill happened in the Gulf in 2010, many people canceled vacations to Southwest Florida, thinking there was oil on the beaches, even though that wasn't the case.

It took millions of dollars in tourism campaigns to convince visitors the beaches were clean and the area was open for business.

For now, visitors to Southwest Florida seem to be content sanitizing whatever they can. A visitor from Michigan noticed that when she went to a local Walmart to get cleaning supplies and they were sold out.