Report: 2018 Red Tide Had $148 Million Impact


We all saw the miles of dead fish. We smelled that awful smell. 2018 was a year everyone will remember when everything that could go wrong with the water did go wrong. A new report from the University of Florida details just how devastating the explosion of red tide was to our area.

When people go to the beach they don’t want to have to avoid walking around piles of dead fish. They don’t want to eat at restaurants and fight off an odor that makes it nearly impossible to eat. And they don’t want to get sick just because they planned a vacation near the water. That’s what 2018 was all about.

The 52-page report conducted by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences says that the economy of Southwest Florida represents roughly 22% of the state economy in terms of both industry output and employment and our economy is inextricably linked to the Gulf of Mexico.

The report says the regional economy of Southwest Florida generated $452 billion in industry output, nearly $255 billion in value added or Gross State Product, and supported nearly 2.8 million fulltime and part-time jobs. And when communities are exposed to harmful algal blooms there can be significant economic losses and damages.

More specifically the report concluded that the 2018 Red Tide event damaged the Southwest Florida economy by approximately $184 million. Broader regional economic impacts were estimates based on these direct impacts, leading to estimates of total economic impacts that include: – Over $317 million in industry output (sales revenue) impacts – Over $195 million in total value-added impacts – Over $120 million in total labor income impacts – Over $45 million in total federal, state, and local tax impacts –Nearly 3,000 job-years lost.

Here’s an example of the impact the 2018 Red Tide event had on a specific industry, according to the report. Results from surveys of for-hire/charter fishing and diving operations as well as marine recreation industries turned up these results:
– 61% decrease in sales revenues (average across all trip types) during the 2018 Red Tide event, when Red Tide was present locally.
– 10% decrease in sales revenues (average across all trip types) during the 2018 Red Tide event, when Red Tide was not present locally.
– 28% decrease in sales revenues (average across all trip types) during the remainder of 2019 (February – December), after the 2018 Red Tide event had ended.

In all the report concludes that due to the Red Tide event in 2018, Lodging was down $52.1 million, Food and Beverage Services lost $41.7 million, Transportation losses amounted to $37 million, Shopping and Retail establishments were down by $30 million and Entertainment and Recreation suffered $23.5 million in losses. The total estimated losses amount to $184 million highlighting just how important water quality is to the local economy.

Read the full 52-page report HERE.