Is red tide impacting businesses on Fort Myers Beach?

Published: Updated:

Michael Dearden, a security worker at the Lighthouse Inn, said for the first time in 18 years, there were more piles of dead fish than there were visitors in the sun.

“The beach is pretty much a ghost town, there’s nobody going in the water,” Dearden said.

Right now, Fort Myers Beach has high levels of red tide.

Beach front restaurants, like The Cottage and Junkanoo closed up shop early Tuesday because employees couldn’t breathe.

“(A) couple gals I know who serve in times square were telling me their hours were cut down to four hours a night, the schedules are getting cut there’s no people coming out to eat,” Dearden said.

Scott Safford, owner of the Sea Gypsy Inn, said he got three cancellations for this weekend.

“It’s tough … I have staff … I have employees one of my maids isn’t working tomorrow … that’s not right,” Safford said.

Now it’s starting to cost him.

“I had guests check in from Germany on Saturday and they spent one night and I want to be as transparent as possible in my business so I gave them their money back,” Safford said.

Safford said hotels on the island rely heavily on online reviews, and one bad post on red tide could cost them in the long run.

“I own just a small hotel but if the other hotels don’t buy into this, the algorithms today, TripAdvisor … it’s going to bring the whole island down,” Safford said. “It’s going to be impossible for us to recover.”

Experts are warning anyone with respiratory issues to stay away from the beach until conditions clear up.

Employees, visitors feel effects

What are the impacts of the water quality and red tide of Southwest Florida for employees and visitors?

WINK News reporter Nicole Valdes spoke with restaurant workers and customers about their concerns. Watch the full segment below:

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.