Thousands of people have flocked to the beaches of Franklin County since the BP oil spill crisis ended in 2010, but while tourism officials are celebrating those who rely on what’s in the water are still seeing impacts from the spill.
The Franklin County Tourist Development Council has reason to celebrate; following big increases in tourism after the 2010 BP oil spill put a major dent in visitors. Bed tax collections have increased 25%, most of it generated by advertising and programs funded by BP.
“In Franklin County, we’ve provided about $1.6 million dollars over the course of this last year to help support tourism” said Keith Rupp, BP General Manager of Government Affairs.
While people are flocking to the beaches, many are bypassing the seafood restaurants, which are hurting the local economy. Oysters have been the economic gem for Apalachicola for years, but when the oil spill hit, the oysters were over harvested out of fear. The Apalachicola River is bringing in less fresh water which the oysters need in combination with the salinity of the bay to thrive. Lastly, seafood sales overall are down since the spill.
“We’re still dealing with the perception that our Gulf seafood is tainted” Helen Spoarer, Franklin County, Tourist Development Council.