Martin County encouraging tourism despite some bad press

Posted at 11:45 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 23:46:02-05

Martin County's tourism office is working hard to curb negative reactions to negative news and promote the area's positive attributes.

From the algae crisis to a murder that made worldwide headlines, and Stuart's now-former mayor referring to a police officer as a pig, local tourism officials say they've had a lot of bad press to confront.

"We try not to be reactionary," said Martin County Tourism and Marketing Manager Nerissa Okiye. "We try to have a strategic plan in place for when things occur and try to be as transparent as possible."

Okiye says the county addresses issues on its tourism website and social media. Okiye says potential visitors are also encouraged to comment or call with any questions.

"These things are really impactful to us," Okiye said, "But if you look at our area verses another area, everybody has their positives, and they have their negatives."

The focus now, she says is highlighting all of the county's positives.

After the summer's blue-green algae crisis, hotels began to see a drop in bookings.

"We've seen that our occupancy has taken a decline because of these things, and it does impact a lot of our businesses," Okiye said. "It impacts the tax at the end of the day in terms of what's being generated."

Even though it's only February, Okiye says the county is already pushing to attract visitors to Martin County for the summer. Even if algae is present, other activities that aren't on the water will be promoted. Tourism officials are hopeful bookings will be up from last summer and fall season.