Southern Traveler
h Home h Features h Departments h Web Bonus h Media Info h Reader Resources h Archives h space
In The News
Mar/Apr 2011 Issue

In wake of oil spill, Gulf Coast tourism officials hoping for more visitors in 2011

It was a year ago on April 20 that an explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig off the cost of Louisiana, and the repercussions have been felt ever since in the Gulf Coast tourism industry, but officials are hopeful for a better year this year.

The blast claimed 11 lives and the ruptured pipe spewed nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico before it was capped in mid-September. Individuals and businesses are still working to recoup losses from BP, including the tourism industry, which saw revenues drop significantly because of the actual oil impact and public perception of soiled beaches.

For instance, gross lodging revenue for Alabama’s Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area was down approximately 41 percent. Tourism officials not only in Alabama but in Mississippi, Louisiana and Florida all endeavored throughout the summer to attract travelers to show them that the oil leak did not have the devastating effect on beaches and seafood as perceived.

“Our industry looks forward to the days of traffic filling the roads and longer wait times at restaurants,” said Herb Malone, president and CEO of Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Tourism. “The tourism industry in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach will rebound better than ever; we just don’t know how long that recovery process will take.”

By the numbers

An army of scientists, environmentalists, fishermen, military personnel and volunteers responded to the oil spill, and clean up and recovery work continues even today. As of mid-January, a look at the ongoing response:

11 vacuum trucks

80 beach cleaning machines

92 tons of solid waste collected

127 surveillance aircraft

9,700 vessels at peak

48,200 responders at peak

1.4 million barrels of liquid waste collected


^ to top | previous page