Where The Oil Is, And Is Not. And How Do You Tell?
It's as much a matter of perception as it is of oil.
Michelle Horne, VP of Nature and Tourism Communications in Corpus Christi tells me that they have "65 miles of beaches waiting for travelers," and Corpus Christi and Padres Islands have "NOT" been affected by the oil spill. "Texas tourism," her release says, "reassures travelers not to cancel plans to visit the Lone Star State."
Meanwhile Mississippi reports the spill could cost the state $120 million dollars in lost revenue from the state's Coastal Areas, according to one study by the University of Southern Mississippi.
Travelocity, the online booking giant, notes that the average daily rate for hotels in the Gulf Region continues to free fall, with a stay at Panama City, Florida, costing $96.00 a night, a steep decline from the pre-May 15 price of $125.00.
At the same time, parts of the Gulf Coast, reports industry publication Travel Weekly, continue to do well. Restaurants and hotels in New Orleans, says Stephen Perry of the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau, are having their best year since Katrina. The web sites boldly declares, "Tourism Remains Vibrant in New Orleans Despite Oil Spill."
So what's happening goes beyond where the oil or tar balls actually are, and where the traveling public thinks they are. Or will end up.
Since perception is reality, the question "What coastal vacation plans should travelers actually keep, and which ones should they cancel?" is huge in terms of hard-earned dollars spent, and revenue badly needed by the tourism entities.
What's going on is what Travel Weekly calls a "two front war" where efforts to contain the actual oil are matched by efforts to correct negative impressions and get accurate information to the public - not to mislead, but to affect public perceptions positively. And quickly.Continued on the next page