BP asked to pay for Florida advertising campaign

Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday sent a letter to BP asking for it to pay nearly $35 million for a marketing campaign to attract visitors to Florida’s beaches and coastal waters.

BP is a responsible party under federal law for the ongoing oil spill occurring off Louisiana that threatens Florida’s coastline. After meeting with the Visit Florida board of directors on Wednesday, Crist sent a letter to BP America President Lamar McKay requesting that the company pay for a Visit Florida campaign to counter the widespread images of millions of gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. Tourism generated $65 billion in direct economic impact to Florida, Crist said.

“I visited several of our coastal Panhandle communities this weekend, and our sugar sand beaches and crystal clear waters are breathtaking,” he said. “Unfortunately, because of the constant images of millions of gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico, potential visitors are receiving negative and false information. This spill was not of Florida’s making, and therefore, we need your urgent assistance to correct the record.”

An emergency campaign would cost $24.75 million through September and another $10 million would be needed in marketing support for counties through September, the governor said. There was no immediate response to a request for comment from BP.

When Crist met with representatives of Visit Florida, he was told there was not enough money available to announce that Florida beaches are fine. The tourism marketing agency was talking about spending $2.5 million but Crist acknowledged that amount would not go far enough to get the word out. He said that he thought that during a special session dedicated to oil drilling that maybe the state could allocate additional money.

(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Story and photo copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be requested at brucebritchie@gmail.com .)