Could Florida's red tide problems affect your family vacation?

BBB urges travelers to know their rights on vacation rentals

Red tide is a problem along Florida’s Gulf Coast beaches and that has vacationers worried.

In fact, the problem is so bad that Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in a number of Florida counties. 

The Better Business Bureau is getting complaints that some of the businesses offering vacation rentals and other services in the affected areas aren’t warning vacationers about the problem.

So, how can you protect your vacation investment, and should you cancel your reservation?

As a consumer, it’s important to know your rights and understand the terms and conditions for a vacation rental or the refund policy for a hotel reservation. 

Under Florida law, establishments are not required to issue refunds for prepaid reservations.

The Better Business Bureau says communication with the business is key. Talk with management and see if they can help resolve your issue. Most want to keep you as a customer and will work with you to find a reasonable solution.

If you want information about current conditions involving red tide, you can visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife website: www.myfwc.com.

If you have a problem with your hotel reservation, the Better Business Bureau may help. Its website is: www.bbb.org/vacation.

Visit Florida offers help

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism-marketing arm, announced a pair of programs Friday to help areas suffering from an outbreak of red tide.

The programs are intended to aid counties with marketing after red tide has subsided, Visit Florida said.

One of the programs will set up a six-month “complimentary” marketing partnership with Visit Florida, while the other will require counties to outline how they will market themselves as part of an application for funding.

The programs, aimed at helping Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, are being funded by $500,000 that Scott made available on Monday as part of $1.5 million in assistance for the region.

The assistance also includes $900,000 to clean up water in Lee County and $100,000 for Mote Marine Laboratory to deploy scientists to assist in saving animals, such as manatees, dolphins and sea turtles.


The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.

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