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All South Florida beach destinations, including ours, were cast under a cloud of uncertainty by the headline that screamed across the country through top national media outlets and internationally via BBC News a few weeks ago.

That infamous headline proclaimed “Toxic algae bloom causes Florida state of emergency: Swathes of thick algae blooms have plagued miles of Florida coastline, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency.”

Phones began to ring at hotels and questions came in to area visitor information centers from people with vacation reservations for summertime stays on or near our beaches ranging from Naples to Marco Island and down into the Gulf Coast Everglades here in Collier County.

“Is the algae there?”

“Should I cancel my vacation reservations?”

A German tour operator contacted our office, wondering if the “seaweed” was clogging our beaches.

Naples, Marco Island beach conditions

It’s hard to compete for broadcast and print space through the traditional media.

Since national headlines and many stories do not explain exactly where the toxic algae blooms are, and more importantly for our area, where they are not, the Paradise Coast tourism team went into action to provide clear information via the tourism website www.paradisecoast.com and through social media about the actual conditions of our beaches and waterways.

The Beach Conditions section, available on the website’s homepage, includes current waterway status information, a slideshow of recent beach photos and links to beach webcams.

Area hotels, attractions, and other businesses were notified of this resource, and they were asked to contribute real-time photos of the beaches and waterways by posting on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the #paradisecoast hashtag.

Images have been coming in through these channels as well as emails to the tourism office.

Everyone is invited to post their photos to social media and tag @paradisecoast or #paradisecoast.

We’ll continue providing up-to-date information, especially since the appearance this week of some blue-green algae to the north of us in Lee County’s Caloosahatchee River.

There are no easy or immediate solutions to the water-management woes that have lead to the current algae-bloom crisis.

The visitors bureau will continue to work to bring all future and current visitors as well as residents the latest information and evidence of conditions along our beautiful Paradise Coast.

JoNell Modys is the public relations and communications manager for the Naples, Marco Island, Everglades Convention and Visitors Bureau, the tourism marketing organization for Collier County, where more than 1.8 million visitors annually provide an economic impact of nearly $2 billion. Check the destination website, www.paradisecoast.com, for more ideas on what to see and do in Florida’s Paradise Coast.

To check the latest beach conditions

paradisecoast.com/articles/paradise_coast_beach_conditions

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