Just as the businesses from the Gulf Coast States were seeing progress in their recovery from Hurricane Katrina, another disaster has pushed them backwards. The BP oil spill that began on April 20 has continued to leak over 4 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Besides the physical damage being done to the ecosystem, the region's economy is expecting a major hit to their commerce.
The damage caused by the spill is proving to have a ripple affect across the entire region. Businesses are concerned that potential visitors are apprehensive about the risk of their vacations being affected by the oil spill. The Gulf Coast's economy heavily relies on a $20 billion tourism industry that directs lots of business to hotels, restaurants and casinos.
Owners and workers are worried that the news coverage will deter visitors from their hotels, restaurants and casinos so they are fighting back. Tourism officials are working hard to challenge the possible ramifications on the economy. An advertising campaign is already in place to assure potential visitors that the oil slick is not going to play any factor during their stay in Gulf destinations.
Casinos in Mississippi are considered to be one of the biggest tourist draws in the region. There are 13 casinos operating in the state and they are located close enough to the coast to be threatened from the impact of the oil spill. Some tourism officials fear that the flow of gamblers who usually enjoy playing at Mississippi casinos will choose to stay at home and play at online casinos. Director of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, Richard Forester is remaining positive saying, "there won't be any oil in the casinos or on the golf courses." Only time will tell how hard the Gulf Coast States are affected this summer. The entire tourism industry is hoping for the best.