Florida tourism officials will have another $700,000 to use in the continuing effort to lure visitors to beaches previously tainted by the BP oil disaster.
The “Back to the Beach — Fall Back into Summer” campaign is aimed at travelers who put off their vacation plans to northwest Florida this summer because of the spill, said state officials.
Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday announced the release of $700,000 in industry licensing fees that has been tied up in a trust fund. The money comes on top of $25 million from BP that went to tourism offices statewide and another $7 million from BP specifically for seven Panhandle counties that were directly affected. The first batch of BP money has been spent, and the second wave must be used by the end of September.
“Florida’s tourism industry is vital to the Sunshine State’s economic security, and we must do all we can to help the businesses harmed by this summer’s oil spill,” Crist said. “I applaud our dedicated and friendly hoteliers and restaurateurs for their work to create a great getaway experience for traveling Floridians, as well as out-of-state and international visitors.”
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Efforts for the latest marketing push will focus on Panhandle beaches, where the summer tourism season was decimated. The beaches are now clean.
“Their (regular) season is over,” said Carol Dover, president and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association. But, she added: “The weather is perfect.”
The association is handling the campaign and plans to use the money to promote events including a fishing rodeo in Destin and a songwriter’s festival in Port St. Joe.
Hotels and airlines are being asked to offer special deals for the campaign, which will include national newspaper ads and co-op efforts with local tourism groups.