Tourists come back to Gulf beaches after BP oil spill

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Visitor numbers for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida dropped in the wake of the disaster that caused 205.8m gallons to spill some 18 months ago.

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Visitor numbers for Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida dropped in the wake of the disaster that caused 205.8m gallons to spill some 18 months ago.

Florida Governor Rick Scott said even tourism in the state’s famous Panhandle was affected despite the minimal impact on its beaches.

“Around the state, people think that BP could be doing more to help market the entire state but what I said to them is, ‘look, you need to help the whole state but you need to make sure the Panhandle gets back on its trajectory’,” he said.

“We have a plan and BP has helped fund that plan and it’s heading in the right direction but we’re not there with regards to seafood. It’s my belief that it’s in their best interest to make sure tourism has come back.”

Governor Scott said BP had given Florida $30m to fund campaigns to attract back its 82m tourists a year. Legal discussions over a state claim against the oil giant have yet to begin.

In Alabama, visitors to the coast dropped by 50pc last summer, according to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. But an $18m advertising drive helped numbers not only recover but also rise by 30pc this year.

Mike Foster, marketing vice president at Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, said: “We dramatically got hit in terms of people coming to our area.

“When we got our initial allotment of marketing dollars, we were thinking that this was going to be a three to five-year project. At this point, it doesn’t appear that way. It appears the visitors are back.”

BP said it had made a long-term commitment to support tourism in the Gulf states. A spokesman said: “BP has provided tourism grants to help the Gulf Coast states promote tourism in the Gulf region.”

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