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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Natural Disaster

Jonathan Serrie

Atlanta, GA


Gulf Tourism Ads Address Oil Spill Concerns

June 28, 2010 - 6:39 AM | by: Jonathan Serrie

Gulf Coast states have launched multimillion dollar ad campaigns, funded in large part by BP, to reassure tourists that they can still enjoy seaside vacations, despite the oil spill.

“Florida has 825 miles of beaches, 221 of them right here in Northwest Florida,” says the narrator in one TV spot for Visit Florida. “That’s a lot of beach to choose from. There are plenty of places in Florida where you can enjoy crystal clear waters and a great beach vacation.”

The website offers real time images and information on the status of beaches. In neighboring Alabama, provides similar updates to help tourists “make an informed travel decision.”

One TV spot promoting Gulf Shores, Alabama and neighboring Orange Beach features features Lucy Buffett, a local restaurant owner and sister of music legend Jimmy Buffett. “I love my gorgeous Alabama beaches,” Lucy Buffett says in the ad. “We’re keeping a close eye on the beaches so you can enjoy them too. So, get on down here!”

The Alabama campaign also touts the area’s shopping, food, golf and entertainment.

The official state and regional tourism ads largely avoid direct references to “oil” and speak only to their specific destination — not the situation in neighboring communities.

However, Spirit Airlines raised some eyebrows with a recent promotion for flights to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, Atlantic City, New Jersey, Cancun, Mexico and San Juan, Puerto Rico. With the banner “Check Out The Oil On Our Beaches,” the ads feature a sunbather next to a bottle of sunblock in the BP colors of yellow and green.

Although the company faces criticism for the ad’s timing and humor, Spirit Airlines officials offer no apology, just an explanation:

“It is unfortunate that some have misunderstood our intention with today’s beach promotion. We are merely addressing the false perception that we have oil on our beaches, and we are encouraging customers to support Florida and our other beach destinations by continuing to travel to these vacation hot spots.”

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