Coastal Living magazine coming to Stuart as county ramps up efforts to bring tourists during summer

Posted at 7:07 PM, Jun 21, 2016

The Martin County Office of Tourism and Marketing is launching a new campaign with the goal of bringing more tourists to the area during the slower summer months.

But the campaign is also raising awareness for an "environmental crisis" according to the marketing manager, Nerissa Okiye.

"As we're facing an environmental crisis, how do we continue to market it and invite people down? Because if we don't invite people down we're going to lose a lot of revenue and all of our residents will be impacted by that," Nerissa said on Tuesday.

By using the hashtag, #ProtectOurParadise , the county is asking residents and visitors to post photos of their favorite locations in Martin County.

The goal is to encourage visitors to come to the area, although they may not be able to enjoy everything there is to see and do there due to issues with the water.

"We want this to change. We want to see this beautiful area. We don't want to see the blue-green algae. As a resident, this is very upsetting when you do see this," Nerissa said.

Right now, clumps of blue-green algae can be spotted in waterways in Stuart.

The Department of Environmental Protection is testing local waters to find out if they're toxic.

In the meantime, some local businesses are bracing for a brutal summer.

Sebastian Lahara is the owner of Triathletica, which offers kayak rentals.

Sebastian said he hasn't been able to rent out a kayak in weeks due to bacteria in local waterways.

"Horrendous. It was a really big downturn in our business," he said.

He's offered alternatives like metal detector and bike rentals to make up for the loss in revenue.

The algae bloom will also be present to editors with Coastal Living magazine.

They will visit the city of Stuart this weekend, after naming it "Happiest Seaside Town" in America.

This is the first time a Florida city has been picked for the title, Nerissa said.

She added that editors are aware of current conditions in the water, and hopes their visit will bring more awareness to the problem.