Florida state officials take steps to stem oil spills’ impact on tourism

For now at least, none of the oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is affecting Florida’s beaches. And that’s exactly the message that state officials are trying to get out to keep vacationers from changing their plans.

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist spent the weekend off-shore fishing off the coast of Destin, telling TV station WJHG, “The weather’s gorgeous. There’s not any oil on the beaches at all.”

And Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink is asking BP, the owner of the drilling rig that’s causing the spill, to fund a global advertising campaign to tell potential travelers that Florida is still open for business.

“We must aggressively advertise that Florida’s beaches remain clean and our seafood is safe,” Sink wrote in a letter to BP officials.

Visit Florida, the state’s tourism marketing agency, is providing live updates on the oil spill’s impact for visitors.

Officials representing the Florida Keys and Miami-Fort Lauderdale area are also worried about the oil spill’s impact. State and federal representatives met with scientists Monday in Broward County to discuss the possibility that the oil might hit their beaches, too.

The Miami Herald reports that Monday, the spill was about 80 miles from the Gulf’s “loop current,” an area that could carry the oil into the Florida Keys and around to the East Coast.

Broward County tourism director Nicki Grossman told the Herald that hotels in her area are getting “hundreds” of calls a day regarding the oil spill. If oil hits Broward beaches this summer, it could mean $10 million a day in lost revenue, Grossman said.