Local clean water advocates want bed tax money to fund water quality projects
PINELLAS COUNTY – Florida is a hot spot for tourism, and Tampa Bay is raking in the dollars.
In 2019, tourism generated 6.9 billion dollars, according to Visit Tampa Bay. And in 2020, more than $24.5 million came here—the top draw for most beautiful beaches.
“It’s not a secret anymore. We know people know about Tampa Bay,” said Justin Tramble with Tampa Bay Water Keepers.
Unfortunately, the waterways have some vast issues: red tide, raw sewage spills, and since 2016 Tampa Bay has lost about 30% of its seagrass. That’s why Tramble and Jenna Byrne, the president and founder of Water Warrior Alliance, are speaking out.
“Water quality is an issue going on right now,” she said. “And there needs to be action taken.”
“People aren’t going to come here if we continue to have significant water quality issues,” said Tramble.
Tramble, Byrne, and other leaders from other environmental groups would like lawmakers to reallocate the way they’re spending Florida’s bed tax revenue. Right now, it’s a 60/40 split. For example, Pinellas County collected $95 million in bed tax revenue last year. According to the breakdown, 60% will go towards marketing, and 40% will be used for capital projects. Capital projects can include water quality, beach renourishment, or construction.