Categorized | Etcetera

Travel industry group wants BP to pay $500 million…

Posted on 23 July 2010

The travel industry’s main trade group demanded Thursday that BP pay $500 million to mitigate up to $23 billion of losses in tourism spending it anticipates along the Gulf Coast in the next three years.”(BP’s) oil spill will have long-term effects on businesses and jobs in the Gulf Coast region unless we counteract the usual course of events with an unprecedented response,” says Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association, which conducted the economic study with research firm Oxford Economics USA.

Tourism generates about $34 billion of spending in the Gulf Coast region and 400,000 jobs, it says. But the losses that could accumulate can range from $7.6 billion to $22.7 billion, depending on the rate of recovery, according to Oxford’s assessment.

Spending $500 million in marketing to attract visitors could save jobs and reduce the impact by $7.5 billion, the study says. The association called on the federal government to secure the funds, but hasn’t determined who would distribute or receive the money, Dow says.

BP didn’t comment.

Among the association’s other proposals:

•Develop a central website that provides accurate information about safe areas for travel.

•Get the U.S. Commerce Department to organize travel-related trade missions to the region for international buyers, and urge the department to reduce the fees it charges for such trips.

•Expand the categories eligible for federal tax credits for tourism-related businesses.

•Get federal government intervention to provide increased access to capital and low-interest loans.

Dan Rowe, CEO of the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau, supports the recommendations, but says he’d like to see new marketing funding flow down to local promoters. They’d be better at promoting their areas than a centralized organization, he says.

While the association’s estimate that a recovery could take up to three years seems “pretty reasonable,” any economic forecast for the spill’s impact is difficult, because “we never had something quite like this,” says Douglas Shifflet of travel research firm D.K. Shifflet & Associates.

“The less you’ve got in information, the more difficult it is. Forecasting is more likely off, but which direction? I really don’t know. But it’s … severe”

Source; USA Today

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