Florida to Offer Travel Incentives on BP's Dime

By: Whitney Ray
By: Whitney Ray

Florida hotel and restaurant owners want to give travelers a free ride and a half priced room to convince them to visit and they want to do it on BP’s dime. The Gulf Oil leak has tourists gun-shy but many think BP gas cards and hotel vouchers could be the nudge skeptical tourists need to Visit Florida.

A tank full of gas, a trunk full of luggage and a destination is how most road trips begin. But since oil began gushing into the gulf, fewer of those trips end in Florida.

To combat the impression that Florida’s beaches are covered in oil, Visit Florida is releasing waves of commercials, letting people know most of our beaches are clean.

But travelers aren’t responding in large enough numbers to keep hotel and restaurant owners above water. Carol Dover, the President of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, is asking BP to help fund people’s Florida vacations.

"We have our hotels having to cut their room rates down just to get an incentive for people to come. We feel like that should be on the backs of BP."

The Association is also asking for 10-thousand BP gas cards. The cards would be for 50 or a 100 dollars worth of gas and go to traveler within driving distance of the state.

But the cards wouldn’t just fill up gas tanks, the hope is they’ll fill up restaurants and tourist attractions losing business because of the spill.

Visit Florida likes the idea. If BP is willing to finance the vacations, the state travel agency will spread the word. Visit Florida CEO Chris Thompson says the cards and vouchers could save BP in the long run if enough people take advantage of them.

“In BP's perspective you can, I guess, either pay on the front end or back end and all of us are trying to litigate and minimize the negative impacts on the tourism department."

The request is in BP’s hands and tourism officials hope the company decides soon enough for Visit Florida to start promoting the offers in time for the Fourth of July Weekend.

Issuing gas cards may help BP on two fronts; It prevents economic damages the company will be liable for but it may also help increase business at BP gas stations at a time when thousands of drivers are avoiding the company.


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