SARASOTA COUNTY (WFLA) – There was some confusion surrounding one of the Tampa Bay area’s top beaches this weekend. Up until around 12:30 on Monday afternoon, Siesta Key Beach was listed as “temporarily closed” on Google.
County officials say the beach was not closed at any point this weekend. A commissioner told us county staff are working with Visit Sarasota County and Google to figure out how the online hours were changed.
President of Visit Sarasota County, Virginia Haley, tells 8 On Your Side she was notified of the online closure early Sunday. She says it was a team effort to get it fixed.
“Early Sunday morning, we started hearing from both visitors and our small businesses on Siesta that if you ‘Googled’ Siesta Beach, it came up saying it was temporarily closed in big red letters,” Haley said. “So we immediately called our Google team of Visit Sarasota and Sarasota County Government and I am happy to say on a Sunday morning, Sarasota County Government staff jumped in immediately and we all began working together to fix it.”
The question now is, why the closure popped up in the first place. 8 On Your Side contacted Google to get answers but, as of 6 p.m. Monday, we haven’t received a response.
A support page for the search engine shows it is possible for visitors to suggest an edit in operating hours.
“We don’t know why it popped up and that is something we are still trying to determine. It will take a little further research to figure out the why,” Haley said. “The good part was seeing the way Sarasota County jumped right in and the fact that 24 hours later, it is fixed.”
The inaccurate online public beach closure comes as resort and condo associations are marking their properties with no trespassing signs. More and more have been popping up along the popular beach over the last several weeks.
Some longtime visitors aren’t liking the shrinking spaces available to set up a beach chair and relax.
“I am a little disheartened by it. I have been coming to Sarasota for over 40 years and I have never seen these lines of demarcation before,” said Suzanne Wright.
“We are thinking about maybe not coming back next year, so if it is impacting us this way, it might be impacting other people,” said Fran Hylinski, who is visiting from Delaware.
Visit Sarasota County officials tell us it’ll likely take some time to figure out exactly why the beach was listed as temporarily closed.
“I have no indication at this point that it had anything to do with the private versus public part of the beach,” said Haley.