3 To Know: Tourism numbers; GM recall

Marco Eagle

1. Tourism numbers rose in Collier County and Florida in first half of year

Tourists continue to flock to the Sunshine State, with a record number of visitors in the first half of the year.

An estimated 65.5 million tourists came to Florida during those six months, Gov. Rick Scott stated in a news release. That was 5.9 percent more than during the first six months of last year.

State officials say the increase occurred during back-to-back record quarters.

File: Southwest Florida

There were 58 million domestic visitors, plus 5.2 million from overseas and 2.3 million from Canada, according to preliminary estimates.

Visit Florida estimated 28.3 million domestic visitors traveled to Florida in the second quarter. That was 7.1 percent more than during the same months last year.

Collier County didn’t have a record number of visitors in the first half of the year, but it did have more visitors than during the same months last year.

From January through June, the county had 1,045,500 visitors spending a night in hotels and other short-stay vacation rentals, up 1.3 percent from last year, when there were 1,032,500, according to a report by a Tampa-based consultant, Research Data Services Inc.

The number of room nights booked fell 0.9 percent over the year, but spending increased 4.2 percent to more than $903 million.

Additionally, total economic impact rose to more than $1.34 billion — up from about $1.29 billion last year.

2. General Motors recalls some pickups, SUVs over brakes

General Motors is recalling about 41,000 pickup trucks and police sports utility vehicles because of loose brake pedals.

The recall covers 2015 through 2016 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks, Chevrolet Silverado 1500 special service pickup trucks and some Chevrolet Tahoe sports utility vehicles made for police departments and other government agencies.

GM says the brake pedal pivot nut may loosen. A driver could be unable to stop the vehicle if the brake pedal is loose or inoperative.

The company said it will fix the problem free of charge by having dealers add adhesive to the nut and reinstall it with increased tightness. It plans to notify vehicle owners but hasn’t said when.

The company hasn’t said if the problem has caused any crashes or injuries.

3. Mote Marine researchers test ozone to kill red tide in canal

Red tide has been taking its toll on Florida’s Gulf Coast, but Mote Marine Laboratory is testing a way to battle it. The newly designed system uses ozone to kill the red tide cells, according to a news release from the nonprofit.

A few fish can still be found washed up on the very quiet shores of Captiva. Toxic algae and red tide have darkened the summer of 2018 for many who rely on tourism to make their living, but some are working to bring a brighter shade of green to areaÕs the hard-hit workers and businesses. Saturday, some of the famous dollar bills that line the Captiva CafŽÕs walls were pulled off for island workers in need. And throughout the weekend, residents responded to a social media campaign: Help Bring the Green Back to Sanibel & Captiva by spending their money at local establishments.

The lab that’s on City Island in Sarasota has developed and patented the new system and is already using it to treat seawater entering Mote Aquarium and its animal hospitals. The test that began in August is using two systems simultaneously that can treat 300 gallons of water per minute. The process oxidizes the bad water and reoxygenates it while killing off excess organic matter.

The state of emergency Gov. Rick Scott ordered is for seven affected counties in Southwest Florida: Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Pinellas and Hillsborough.

The order calls for $100,000 for Mote Marine to increase red tide response, including Mote’s efforts to deploy more scientists to help save affected animals such as manatees, dolphins and sea turtles.

This year’s red tide ranges from Naples to Anna Maria Island — about 150 miles

— and seems to be migrating north.