Florida Tourism Grapples with Offshore Drilling Issue

DESTIN, Fla. (AP) - As tourism industry leaders from the Florida
Keys to the Panhandle met today for a summit on offshore drilling,
David Mattiford cleaned his fishing charter boat on the Destin
Docks nearby. He explained why he would welcome the oil companies.

Oil platforms could provide perfect cover for attracting schools
of fish, oil spills are easily contained with today's technology
and - Mattiford argued - charter boat operators cannot keep paying
$1,200 each time they fill their boats with gas.

But for many Floridians, the question isn't so simple: while
tourism is the state's top industry and relies largely on motorists
hit hard by soaring gas prices, many fear the possibility of damage
to the famous state's beaches if more offshore drilling is allowed.

Despite months of national debate about offshore drilling, The
Florida Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus has yet to
take an official stance.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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