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Although by all accounts a special containment cap installed by BP has successfully contained the massive leak that had been spewing what has been estimated at tens of millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, questions continue as to just how much oil has —and will — end up along the popular travel destinations found within the Gulf of Mexico.
With near-constant media images of oil-slicked beaches in the area, travelers are understandably nervous about continuing with their summer vacation plans to the region, which includes such popular destinations as Pensacola, Gulfport, Biloxi, Gulf Shores and even New Orleans.
However, as many of the of the areas continue to report little or no impact from the oil spill and with the region scrambling to preserve what it can of its important travel industry, now may be exactly the time for your clients to consider a Southern getaway. Heck, even the Obama family will be vacationing in the area later this month.
While only the agent can determine whether a Gulf vacation is appropriate for their clients, the following resource guide can provide them with the most current conditions along the Gulf region.
Alabama Gulf Shores & Orange BeachAlabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau 800-745-SAND (7263)[email protected]
Current Conditions Website(s)
Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Daily Updatewww.thebeachfacts.com
City of Gulf Shores Information & Advisorieswww.gulfshoresal.gov/emergency/emergencyupdate.html
City of Orange Beach Information & Advisorieswww.cityoforangebeach.com/pages_2007/bp_horizon_oil_spill_updates.php
Current Reported Conditions“Effective July 30, the Alabama Department of Public Health has lifted the swimming advisory for gulf waters off Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan based on improvements in water conditions. However, the department warns that there may still be sporadic oil on or near the beaches and discourages individuals from entering waters if there is visible oil present.” (07/30/10)
Mobile Bay/Dauphin IslandMobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau800-5-Mobilewww.mobilebay.org
Current Conditions Website(s)www.mobilebaytravelupdates.com
Current Reported Conditions“Currently, everything is 'BUSINESS AS USUAL' in the Mobile area. The Mobile Bay area's many renowned attractions, hotels, restaurants, exhibits, events and retail businesses are operational, the Carnival ELATION is cruising as planned and our world-famous seafood is as delicious as ever! Visitors are encouraged to keep their travel plans to our historic port city - come dine on delicious seafood, visit our local retailers and spend some time in beautiful Mobile Bay. ” (07/30/10)
Visit FloridaFlorida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation866-972-5280www.visitflorida.com/about_visit_florida
Current Conditions Website(s)www.visitflorida.com/florida_travel_advisory
Current Reported Conditions“NOAA announced today that a new analysis shows Southern Florida, the Florida Keys, and the East Coast are unlikely to experience any effects from the remaining oil on the surface of the Gulf as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The furthest east Florida has seen impacts from the oil spill is just east of the Gulf/Bay County line. Although sporadic sightings of tar balls have been reported, Northwest Florida's shoreline is not expected to receive additional impacts over the next 72 hours. Nearly 90 percent of Florida's more than 1,260 miles of coastline remains unimpacted.” (07/30/10)
Pensacola Beach, Perdido KeyPensacola Bay Area Convention & Visitors Bureau800-874-1234www.visitpensacola.com
Santa Rosa Island Authority, Pensacola Beach, Email Alertswww.sria-fla.com/e-alert-signup.php
Current Reported Conditions“Beaches in Escambia County, including Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key and the Gulf Islands National Seashore, remain open for swimming. Reports over the last several weeks have been of minimal impacts, typically scattered tar balls. The threat of oil to beaches has been greatly reduced due to the capping of the oil well and progress toward a permanent kill, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.” (7/30/10)
Beaches of South WaltonNorthwest Florida’s Gulf Coast800-822-6877www.beachesofsouthwalton.com
Current Conditions Websiteswww.bswupdate.com
Current Reported Conditions“All along the 26 miles of white sandy shoreline, Beaches of South Walton communities are open for enjoyment with no reports of oil this afternoon. Surf conditions are calm.At the urging of the Florida Department of Health, the local health department has posted Oil Impact Notices at beach access points, advising beachgoers of health tips to follow if noticeable oil product is present. Beachgoers are advised to exercise personal judgment as conditions can change quickly.”
State of Louisiana Office of Tourismwww.louisianatravel.com
State of Louisiana Office of Tourismhttp://oilspill.louisianatravel.com/office-tourism-update
Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitalswww.dhh.louisiana.gov/offices/?ID=207
Current Reported Conditions“Much of the Louisiana Gulf Coast is unaffected by the oil spill and remains open for commercial and recreational fishing.
All Louisiana coastal parishes (counties) continue to offer travelers historic and cultural attractions, world-acclaimed indigenous food and music, and notable restaurants and overnight accommodations.
The primary area affected by the spill is around the southeast coast of Louisiana.” (07/30/10)
Baton RougeBaton Rouge Area Convention & Visitors Bureau800-LA-ROUGE www.visitbatonrouge.com
Current Reported Conditions“We are continuously monitoring the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. Baton Rouge is located approximately 160 miles inland and we are operating business as usual with no anticipated impact on visitors.”
Lake CharlesLake Charles/Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau800-456-SWLA (7952) [email protected]www.visitlakecharles.org
Current Conditions Website(s)www.visitlakecharles.org/visitors/outdoors/oilspill/
Current Reported Conditions“Lake Charles/Southwest Louisiana in Calcasieu Parish is currently not under immediate threat of oil entering its waters or Cameron Parish along the Gulf of Mexico, both home to the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. Attractions, recreation, fishing, crabbing, shelling and nature photography are still viable and thriving along the Creole Nature Trail.” (07/30/10)
New OrleansNew Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau800-672-6124 [email protected]www.neworleanscvb.com
Current Conditions Website (s)www.neworleanscvb.com/static/index.cfm/contentID/1406/hidenav/1
Current Reported Conditions“As cleanup of the Gulf continues 100 miles away, New Orleans is continuing as one of the hottest tourist destinations in the United States.
All of the things that hundreds of thousands of visitors are coming in record numbers to enjoy in America's most authentic city, New Orleans, are unchanged by the heart-wrenching environmental issues in the Gulf and the presence of tar balls in Lake Pontchartrain earlier this month.” (07/30/10)
Louisiana’s North ShoreSt. Tammany Parish Tourist and Convention Commission800-634-9443[email protected]www.LouisianaNorthShore.com
Current Conditions Website(s)www.louisiananorthshore.com/blog/
Current Reported Conditions“Despite reports this week that a small amount of tar balls have made their way into the easternmost area of Lake Pontchartrain, physical impact of the oil spill has been minimal on St. Tammany Parrish.” (07/25/10)
Mississippi’s West CoastHancock County Tourism and Visitor Center800-466-9048[email protected]www.mswestcoast.org
Mississippi Gulf CoastHarrison County Tourism Commission888-67-4853www.gulfcoast.org
Ocean SpringsOcean Springs Main Street Tourism Bureau228-875-4424 [email protected]www.oceanspringschamber.com
Mississippi’s West Coast Facebook Pagewww.facebook.com/group.php?gid=76349735748
Harrison County (Gulfport, Biloxi)www.gulfcoast.org/visitors/deepwaterupdates/
Mississippi Department of Environmental Qualitywww.deq.state.ms.us/MDEQ.nsf/page/Main_OilSpillLinksandPublicInformation2010?OpenDocument
Current Reported Conditions“Scattered incidents of tar balls reaching the main shoreline continue. A total of 20 cleanup crews are working daily to clean these beaches. Beach advisories remain in effect in Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson Counties. These beaches are not closed and beach goers may continue to use these beaches and enjoy water activities, but the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources and the Mississippi State Department of Health advise people to be aware of their surroundings while recreating. Yes, you may be on the beach when cleanup crews are present.” (07/30/10)
AlabamaGulf Shores/Orange BeachMobile Bay/Dauphin Island
FloridaState of Florida TourismPensacola BeachBeaches of South Walton
LouisianaLouisiana Office of TourismBaton RougeLake CharlesNew OrleansLouisiana’s North Shore