Martin County launches tourism campaign to battle negative image over algae

Posted at 6:16 PM, Aug 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-05 10:50:03-04

Martin County has launched a campaign to promote businesses that rely on tourism.

Despite the algae, the county wants you to know the situation is improving.

By lunchtime it was still empty at Flying Fish Paddle Sports in Stuart, “No one has come in yet today,” said Demi O’Connor, the shop manager.

Demi keeps the paddle boards for rent in the shed. The water is still off limits for her customers as long as a no swim advisory remains posted due to the blue green algae.

“It was pretty tough having to turn down a lot of business,” said Demi.

But she says the water at Manatee Pocket is looking better, “At first it was a little milky, you can see that it didn't look right but it's kinda cleared up,” said Demi.

Nerissa Okiye, the tourism manager for Martin County said, “The conditions are much more improved,” she said. “You're not seeing as much of those devastating images of the algae bloom.”

Okiye has helped launch the campaign called Protect our Paradise to get the word out to help businesses that depend on tourism

“We've lost some businesses and we're wanting to do everything we can to really promote everything,” explained Okiye. “There still is to do while being transparent about what's happening.”

Martin County started a photo contest on Instagram and Facebook asking for outdoor pictures that show why you love Martin County. The prize is a night at a hotel and downtown shopping spree.

Demi O'Connor welcomes any way to draw more tourists to the waters. She hopes the photos will let potential visitors know that they're open for business.

“I tell them that it's getting better,” said Demi.

The photo contest ends August 15. To enter, send your submission with the hashtag #ProtectOurParadise on Instagram or post it to the Discover Martin Facebook page

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