Red tide has hurt tourism in Bradenton. It could take another big bite in 2019

MANATEE - It was cold and blustery Monday morning along the beaches of Anna Maria Island, with larger-than-usual blue-green waves breaking on shore. Visitors were bundled in jackets and long pants to ward off the 63-degree chill as they walked along the sand or sat in folding chairs. But at least it wasn’t snowing and there was no sign or smell of red tide.

Not that there haven’t been flares recently at Robinson Preserve and along Palma Sola Causeway.

Elliott Falcione, executive director of the Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, has been saying that he believes the worst is over. But after Monday’s Manatee County Tourist Development Board meeting, he said that tourist bed tax collections in the new fiscal year could be down as much as 10 percent.

For the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, two months after red tide first appeared on Manatee County beaches, bed tax revenues — the tax collected on hotel stays and home rentals — were up 10.3 percent.

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