Influx of people on the Suncoast helps economy still recovering from red tide

Influx of people on the Suncoast helps economy still recovering from red tide

SARASOTA (WWSB) - It’s the height of tourist season, but the influx of people is good for the economy still recovering from last year’s red tide outbreak.

Lifeguards estimate there was 12,000 people at Siesta Beach Tuesday and the same was true for Monday.

“We just love it,” said Debbie Rhodes.

Yep, you guessed it. Rhodes and her fiance are from out of town. But the two loved Sarasota so much, they just made the Suncoast their home.

"There’s so many things to do, so many restaurants, so many beaches to go to, it’s just the happening place right now,” Rhodes said.

Happening indeed! There are people everywhere.

“People coming down, enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve been having, high and in the low 80′s, very low humidity,” said Scott Montgomery, Chief Lifeguard for Sarasota County beaches. "Water temperatures are about 72 degrees, and no red tide.”

Montgomery said the influx hasn’t caused any increase in rescues, but they still want to remind beach goers to swim near their posts, stay hydrated and keep a close eye on children.

“If you go to Siesta Beach on a day like today, the crowds that we have, [children] have the tendency to possibly get lost and we don’t want that to happen,” said Montgomery.

Law enforcement has also increased patrol at the beaches this week to remind you to lock your doors and hide your valuables.

'Visit Sarasota County’ said its been working to get these larger crowds.

“In light of red tide, we did not want take peak season for granted, so we amped up all of our marketing efforts," explained Erin Duggan, vice president of Visit Sarasota County.

But will it be enough to bounce back from the devastating affects of red tide?

“We do anticipate what we’ve been calling a little bit of a hangover, so I do think that it’s going to take more than just one big season," Duggan said.

Still - staff is optimistic that continuing to show off everything the Suncoast has to offer will be the comeback needed for businesses, hotels and tourist attractions.

“It’s going to be the whole economic impact," Duggan said. "It’s going to be looking at the benefits that tourism has on Sarasota County as a community.”

If you’re planning on going to the beach, the Sarasota County Lifeguard Chief recommends you check visitbeaches.org first for details on water temperatures and surf conditions.

To visit that website, click here.

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