Sunday, May 23, 2010

Eternal Sunshine Of The Chamber Of Commerce

Florida officials hope oil spill fears won't keep tourists away

"Officials in Panama City, Florida, have beaten construction delays, permit problems and the ever-present threat of hurricanes to arrive at this day: a new airport that will open the region to the world and bring in planeloads of tourism dollars.
But as regular air service begins Sunday, authorities never thought they'd have to contend with a new threat: an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that continues to gush thousands of gallons of crude every day.
"We've been getting calls ever since the oil spill occurred," said Dan Rowe of the Panama City Visitors' Bureau. "You know, wondering about their vacation plans."
Tourism, Rowe said, is the largest industry in Panama City. The $318-million Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is the first international airport to open in the country since 1997.
"It is really going to be an economic driver for all of northwest Florida's economy for years to come," he said.
The new airport is expected to generate approximately $80 million in new state revenues over the first 20 years of operation.
But the challenge, now, is to convince tourists that the water is clean."

Sick Fishermen and Oily Smells on the Gulf Coast

"Yesterday in Venice, Louisiana, fishermen and local residents called a press conference to talk about the air. People complained of the oily smells when the wind is blowing off the water, and listed symptoms including headaches, nosebleeds, asthma attacks, cough, nausea, and vomiting. Those who had been out on the water said it was even worse out there."

Florida Gulf oil spill: Plans to evacuate Tampa Bay area are in place


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