Gulf Coast OutreachSTS has been working with Congress and several federal agencies, informing them of the travel and industry's concerns. After STS had urged that greater engagement with community and state-level tourism organizations was needed, on June 8 the Department of Commerce set up a conference call between Secreatry Locke and several key Gulf Coast organizations. The call gave the Secretary the chance to hear first-hand what the situation is for tourism and to ask local tourism leaders what they needed to address this disaster. It was brought up that federal funds are needed now to combat the perception that all Gulf Coast destinations are amuck in crude.
Stay in Touch
Southeast Tourism Society has compiled a list of links and messages to keep you up to date on the latest happenings on the Gulf Coast. Keep checking the consumer website Escape to the Southeast as well as the industry website Southeast Tourism for the latest updates.
Mississippi Gulf Coast
"We have been somewhat fortunate so far in that very little if any oil has appeared on our beaches or in our coastal waters. We have had some on a couple of the barrier islands, but nothing in the Mississippi sound or on the mainland beaches. Most of our state waters are still open and shrimping season opened on time. I think the word is finally getting out that we remain open for business, but we are seeing some cancellations and a drop off in inquiries for the future which is very troubling."
Richard Forester, executive director
"Currently, the beaches of Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key are open. Despite the presence of tarballs, visitors continue to swim, fish, and build sand castles as usual. We are closely watching an oil sheen that is approximately 1 mile off our shore, and county officials are patrolling the beaches from Perdido Key to Pensacola Beach and are prepared for immediate clean up should oil come ashore. Log on to VisitPensacola.com for current updates from official sources, a live Web cam of our beaches, and daily photos and videos submitted by vacationers. Many of our hotels and rental properties have relaxed their cancellation policies to better meet travel needs during this time."
Ed Schroeder, director
"I am the Mayor of Pittsburg, Texas and am vacationing in Pensacola Beach, Florida. I wanted to comment on the oil that has been reported arriving on shore in Pensacola Beach. Thewater is not perfect, but we are having a good time and are still able to enjoy our vacation and the kids can swim and build sand castles and still hunt crabs at night and sea shells on the beach. I think people need to know that it isn't perfect, but it is still far from a disaster for those vacationing here currently. I am glad we made the trip and I am glad we are here and will be here until the June 12." Shawn Kennington, Mayor, Pittsburg, Texas
"Currently, our occupancy rate is 100% in our parish due to British Petroleum (BP) and emergency workers. Hotels and restaurants are filled to capacity. It is our attractions who are hurting the most right now since there is no place to house potential travelers. Our biggest fear is that when the BP and emergency workers leave, our occupancy rates will go from 100% to 0%.
"Louisiana received funds for tourism marketing from BP. The coastal parishes that have been affected have formed a coalition and are working together to market a new brand: Visit Coastal Louisiana. We are pooling our resources together to make us stronger and use these funds to the fullest extent. Everyone has been affected by perception.
"The biggest unknown is what is underneath the water. We know that there are large plumes of oil underneath the surface; some could be fairly shallow while others are 2,000 feet below the surface. The moratorium on oil drilling has also affected the coast as many workers have left, producing a domino effect in services rendered.
"We encourage travelers to visit. Tours of the wetlands are available and attractions are open. In fact, 95% of Louisiana is unaffected. Please come and see us and continue to visit and support."
Sharon Alford, executive director
View the projected path of the oil spill on these maps.>> Maps
Gulf Coast LinksFor the latest information on the Gulf Coast visit:
Destinations and attractions affected by the Gulf Coast oil spill situation are invited to submit update news releases to firstname.lastname@example.org. Group Tour Magazine will do its best to get them posted on its website and connect them to its Twitter and Facebook feeds.
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