Oil Spill Still Affecting Florida Tourism 6 Months Later

Six months ago, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded resulting in the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history. In Pensacola many say recovery has yet to begin.

The tarballs are gone... The leader of the free world is back in Washington... And the governor has moved on to other issues.

But for Bruce Parris, oil continues to inundate his bottom line. He's the manager of 'The Dock', a popular bar and grill on Pensacola Beach. Bruce says business took a nosedive during the oil spill and remains below average.

“We have people that live five miles away in Gulf Breeze, Florida, that haven't brought their children out here all summer long,” he said. “They didn't want to be exposed to the oil, and they weren't sure of the toxic implications or anything like that. They were afraid.”

Which is to say nothing of out-of-town tourists. Between May and August - the peak season - Pensacola's hotels saw bookings decline by up to 30 percent.

Six months on, and Pensacola's signature powder-white sand is as pristine as ever, but the effects of the oil spill could linger just below the surface.

Local leaders are worried about tar that may not have been picked up and is now trapped under the sand. They're trying to get to it by using high-tech tractors. But, beachgoers like Kali Flemmer and her daughter Marissa don't care about all that. They're back on the sand for the first time in five months, when the oil began coming ashore.

“Not really,” they said. “I bring my little kids here, and they play in the sand. I haven't seen the effects on a lot of the other beaches further on the other side of the coast, so I'm not worried.”

Not that the spill's economic crisis is anywhere near over.

“We haven't received a BP check at this time, yet,” Bruce said.

But at least buckets of oil threatening the future have finally become a thing of the past.

To boost fall business, panhandle hotels are offering $100 debit cards to tourists who stay at least three nights.

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  • by Forever on Oct 21, 2010 at 07:56 AM
    I am afraid we will be dealing with this for years not months. Buy now. Sell in 20 years.
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