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Fort Myers Beach Businesses Prepare for Lack of Tourists, Income

“We are just kind of in survival mode and we just want it to get better,” Amy Gillette said at Tuckaway Cafe where she is a part owner.

Red tide has put some businesses in the red — especially down at Fort Myers Beach.

To help alleviate the effects on the bottom line for local businesses, the Fort Myers Beach Chamber of Commerce sponsored a workshop on Wednesday.

The workshop provided consulting services for the small businesses who have been hurting from the persistent environmental effects.

These businesses are making tough decisions. For instance, because of the reduction of operating hours to save on the bottom line, one of the biggest casualties has been employee paychecks.

“Employees that work here,” Amy said. “They depend on our business for them to have hours and for them to work and to support their families.”

The Tuckaway Cafe has 10 employees. The owners have cut back on the hours which means fewer and less pay for workers.

“We were opening until seven in the evening, now we are only open until two in the afternoon to cut out costs and save our utilities,” Amy said.

It’s the same situation down the street at The Beached Whale.

“I mean what do you have without the people,” Marty Harrity said. “I mean people have to pay their bills. We are in a tourist economy and we need to get people here.”

There are estimates that collectively, businesses in our area are losing more than $2.5 million a week.

If that number is accurate, that’s about 20 percent of the town’s annual revenue — lost.

“If no heads in beds, nobody is buying stuff in the gift shops, nobody is going out to eat,” Marty said. “We can hopefully get people, local people, who are going to go out.”

Now, business owners fear what turnout may look like as the busy season approaches and that’s what they are planning for.

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Reporting by Brittany Muller