BILOXI, Miss., Aug. 20 (UPI) -- Now that the well leaking oil into the gulf has been capped, Gulf Coast businesses are hoping for a late summer surge in tourism, residents say.
President Obama and his family visited Panama City, Fla., for two days, and the president and his daughter swam in the Gulf of Mexico, but tourists have been few and far between in most towns and locals think they know who to blame.
"The media was the cause of my problem and the media is the cure," Bob Bennett, owner of the Edgewater Inn in Biloxi, Miss., tells The Washington Times.
He said television and newspaper coverage of tar balls washing ashore created an impression beaches were covered with gooey oil when most of region's sandy beaches were clean.
Hotels, seafood restaurants, casinos, and sport-fishing charters suffered as tourists stayed away and the summer, when many businesses turn their yearly profit, slipped away.
"The reporting of the event was as expensive to the businesses on the Gulf Coast as the actual event was," said Jim Hutchinson, assistant secretary of the Louisiana Office of Tourism. "Much of the impact was a result of the reporting of what may happen, as opposed to what really happened."
A tourism office survey found most of those polled expected the effects of the BP oil spill to last along the coast for years.