Meeks tells BP $25 million isn't nearly enough listen05/20/10 Kate Bradshaw
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While the image of oil covering Floridaâ€™s beaches may not be reality, it is already causing people to cancel their visits to Florida. To help combat this, BP pledged to give Florida $25 million to convince the rest of the world that its beaches are clean. Today Democratic US Representative and Senate hopeful Kendrick Meek sent a letter to BP CEO Tony Hayward asking him to up that number four-fold.
Meek said that he expects an effective marketing campaign, which would blanket cities like Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis, would likely cost at least $96 million, but maybe more. He said that the oil giant is good for it.
In Florida, tourism is a $65 billion per year industry. Already, Meek said, the Panhandle has seen a 70% dropoff in reservations. The rest of the Gulf Coast hasnâ€™t fared well either. Itâ€™s seen a 15% drop in reservations. Meek says the charter fishermen heâ€™s spoken with are also beginning to feel the crunch.
On the question of what happens if oil does wash up in Florida, Meek said itâ€™s not like the entire coast will see it.
Meek said BP needs to consider the timing of the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Tampa Bayâ€™s beaches are already seeing some cancellations because of spill. Robin Grabowski is President of the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce. She says area hotels have already gotten a few cancellations.
While the numbers may not be significant, sheâ€™s more worried about those who arenâ€™t making reservations.
Grabowski said the Chamber is taking advantage of social media, but does not have the money to market Tampa Bayâ€™s oil-free beaches in a way that would compensate for the money that may be lost due to inaccurate perceptions of the oil spillâ€™s proximity to Tampa Bay.
She said she doesnâ€™t want to see a repeat of the 1993 spill.
Grubowski said Representative Meekâ€™s request for 75 million additional dollars is good news, but that sheâ€™s being realistic on the question of whether BP will actually agree to that number.
As of air time, there is no word on whether BP will fulfill Representative Meekâ€™s request.