Sunday, 6 March 2011

Miami Tourism: Plain Sailing or Troubled Water Since the BP Oil Spill?

By Mike Leverency
Miami beach is one of the most recognisable locations in the world, after the BP Oil Spill will the beach be a white heaven or a black hell? Here's a quick timeline of the oil spill to put some of it into perspective:
20th April: The Oil Rig, Deep Water Horizon reports an explosion and fire, eleven people are missing and 17 injured
22nd April: The Deep water Horizon sinks in 5,000ft of water. There are reports of a five mile ling oil slick
25th April: The underwater well is leaking at 1,000 barrels of oil a day.
28th April: The Coastguard announces that the flow of oil is at 5,000 barrels per day, five times larger than first estimated. Controlled burns begin.
29th April: President Obama gives his first public speech about the spill, pledging that he will spare no resource to stop the spill.
1st May: The coastguard announce that the spill will affect the coast.
13th May: A researcher from Purdue University puts the amount of oil leaking at 70,000 barrels per day.
15th June: President Obama says that the Oil Spill is the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced
19th September: BP finally stops the ruptured well from leaking.
It's been a tragic summer for the Gulf of Mexico, with the President saying that the Oil Spill is the worst environmental disaster in U.S history.
As you can see from the timeline above, the Oil Spill did hit the coast of the US, and our TV screens were filled with reports of tar and oil balls washing up onto the shores. The big question is whether this disaster is going to affect tourism? We know that it affected the fishing trade as the fishing boats were banned from the spill sight. It has also had some lasting environmental damage, with a species of seahorse almost going extinct as a result.
After the spill had stopped the reports of the little black tar balls disappeared from our TV's but the question still remains that whether this disaster will affect tourism to one of America's tourism hotspots.
We have already seen political representative's promoting Florida's and Alabama's beaches. Barrack Obama was photographed swimming with his daughter, and more recently Governor Charlie Crist has been photographed promoting Miami's South Beach.
Tourism figures are looking healthy, but only time will tell. The Tourism board can do nothing apart from parade officials along beaches to try and transmit a positive image. It is hard to tell which way the tourists will swing on this one, keep an eye out because there may be very cheap flights to Miami in the coming months.
But Florida isn't just about the beaches, there are plenty of activities and things to see and do around the Gulf. By all accounts the beach is fine, but, if the beaches aren't fine, will that affect Tourism in a negative way? Or will tourists just avoid the beach?
I'm Mike, I want to educate, help and inspire people to think about travel.