Red Tide

New Study Quantifies the Economic Cost of 2018 Red Tide Bloom

The study estimates there was approximately $184 million in losses in the tourism sector.

By Staff March 17, 2022

Red tide in 2018

Red tide in 2018


Researchers recently released two new indexes to gauge the severity of red tide events in the Gulf of Mexico. The Bloom Severity Index and the Respiratory Index offer a standardized, objective way to gauge how severe red tides are.

The indexes showed that the so-called “2018 bloom”—which actually occurred from October 2017-January 2019—was the most severe bloom ever documented. A recent study published in the journal Tourism Economics, bThe y the University of Florida, quantified the financial impact the 2018 bloom had on Florida's economy, using the Airbnb market as a gauge for the broader impacts. The study, which was funded by the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Observing System (GCOOS) and NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS), reviewed Airbnb property and reservation data and estimated there was approximately $184 million in losses in the tourism sector.

Geographically, a majority of the economic losses from the 2018 bloom occurred in Southwest Florida, however, due to spillover effects, more than 15 percent of the overall economic effects occurred throughout the rest of the state of Florida.
The study also points to the need to address the impacts of harmful algal blooms (HABs) on a national level, says David Kidwell, NOAA NCCOS Competitive Research Program director. “HAB events had significant effects on Florida tourism and coastal communities and, over the last 30 years, there has been a significant increase in some HAB events across the U.S. The results of this study support the development of a national framework for future HAB assessments that can inform decision-making and help resource managers lessen impacts on communities.”
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