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BP Spill Spooked Summer Tourists

On Florida’s northwest coast, the beaches are clear and the water clean, yet tourists are canceling vacations in droves, CNN Money reports.

BP has capped the gushing well. But Destin’s economy has been walloped by a phantom ripple effect: Widespread fear by tourists that the oil had wrecked its coastline.

Destin Snorkel has been hit hard. Revenue was down 60% according to Val Costley, one of the partners of the operation. “I get calls every day: Are you snorkeling in oil?” said Costley. “We’ve been painted in this broad brush that we’ve been destroyed and that’s just not true.”

Trevor and Sarah Ladner, the sole proprietors of WhiteSandVacationRentals.com, have had about 30 percent of their reservations cancel. They rent out nine homes in Destin.

“It is the fear that people have. The misconception,” said Sarah. “They are imagining a tar slick on the beach,” added Trevor.

The timing of the oil spill proved catastrophic, and not just in economic terms: it came just in time to disturb fish breeding season, in time to spook away a full summer’s full of tourists and in time for hurricane season.

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