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Oily Waters Threaten Florida’s Tourism Industry

From Kaleel ftp etc

It never seems to end

First volcanic ash snafus airline and travel schedules, then Times Square terrorism closes down one of the world’s great attractions. The alleged terrorist almost manages to take off on an Emirates flight even though he was on a “no fly” watch list, and the BP oil slick slams travel to New Orleans, and beyond. Global airfare search engine, Skyscanner reports that domestic bookings to New Orleans have plummeted 35% in the wake of the oil disaster, easily one of the biggest of our time, and is devastating travel to a region still reeling from Katrina

And the slick moves on.
The oil threatens to foul the Florida coast, the life blood of the state’s 60 billion dollar travel industry, and global hot spot for tourists.
Skyscanner reports a major fall in searches for some Florida cities (Tallahassee has dropped 17% and Orlando 5% since last week), though international searches seem to be less affected probably because news of the threat to Florida has not yet been widely reported in the world press.
But that won’t last.
Florida of course is almost totally dependent on its coast and beaches for travel revenue but beyond the obvious victims like resorts and hotels, CDNN, a scuba diving and coastal-watch news service, says both the diving industry and wedding planners are in panic mode.
One Pensacola dive shop owner said his business dropped 75 percent over fears of fouled Gulf waters, and wedding planners like Port St. Joe’s Lynne Carr are trying to calm brides. The town, along the Emerald Coast, is a favorite wedding spot, and wedding parties fear the big day will be ruined by the stink of oil.

Some scientists like Dr. Chuanmin Hu, an Associate Professor of Optical Oceanography at the University of Miami predict the spill will actually reach the Florida Keys and east coast within weeks.
Even when the disaster is over, the damage lingers. EPR Travel News, a press release distribution system, quoted US tourism officials as saying that on average, tourists will wait about 3 months before returning to an area hit by a natural disaster.

Travel is already reeling from a sclerotic economy. It doesn’t need any more hits. And Floridians used to hurricanes and tropical storms are woefully unprepared for the oil damage.

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