Sanibel kicks off National Seashell Day

Holiday is marketing campaign to increase tourism
Posted at 6:38 PM, Jun 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-20 18:45:59-04
As Southwest Florida celebrates its first National Seashell Day, many residents worry that the water quality could deter possible tourists. 
Sanibel is known as one of the best places to go "shelling," making it the perfect place for the Lee County Visitor and Convention bureau to kick off the national holiday.  
"I really love enjoying shelling and for there to be a national seashell day is super important and everybody will get to go outside and go shelling," said 
The marketing campaign is a more than half-million dollar endeavor to attract more tourists to Southwest Florida beaches. 
"There are a lot of families that eat dinner because of our visitors and that's what we are trying to do is encourage people to come here so that our folks in the community have jobs," said Tamara Pigott, executive director of the Lee County Visitor and Convention bureau.
To kick off the national holiday, Lee County paired up with local artist and shell enthusiast Pam Rambo to create the "Shell Love Bug."
The "Shell Love Bug," a Volkswagen Beetle adorned with over 20,000 shells of over 65 species that were found along the Southwest Florida coastline, has proven to be a head turner. 
With designs of hearts, sand dollars and starfish, it represents how much the local community loves their shells. 
"We're going to be celebrating or 'shell-ebrating' the whole summer,"said Rambo.
The summer months is a slow season for tourists visiting Southwest Florida. 
With over $3 billion being brought in by tourists each year, the recent Lake Okeechobee water releases have made a significant impact on the areas #1 industry. 
"We have the best shells in the world so actually having national shell day is a great day, but the water is just an issue upon itself," said Wesley Faye, a Sanibel resident. 
While water quality remains a contested issue..many hope National Seashell Day can help strengthen tourism until a permanent solution to the problem is found.  
Check out the places you can visit the "Shell Love Bug" this week. 
Tuesday, June 21 - Cape Coral/North Fort Myers
11 a.m. - 1 p.m. - The Shell Factory & Nature Park
1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m. - The Yacht Club
Wednesday, June 22 - Downtown Fort Myers
10 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. - Twisted Vine Bistro
11:30 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. - The Edison & Ford Winter Estates
1:20 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. - Alliance for the Arts
Thursday, June 23 - Fort Myers Beach
11 a.m. - 12 p.m. - Love Boat Ice Cream
12:30 p.m. - 3 p.m. - Lynn Hall Memorial Park
Friday, June 24 - Estero/Bonita Springs
11 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. - Coconut Point shopping center
1 p.m. - 3 p.m. - Bonita Beach Park