BP’s $3 Million Tourism Grant: Why it’s Too Little to Help the Gulf Coast

While the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has come to an end, the large amount of environmental damage is likely to affect the region for decades, local environmentalists have claimed. BP has pledged to assist local communities and regional cities in cleaning up from the disaster, with a series of funds and private grants issued to cities that have seen their environment and economy hurt by the spill.

Mississippi, one of the states most heavily affected by the spill, has been given a $3 million grant from BP to encourage tourism-based advertising and promotion within the state. While the state’s coastline has been largely cleaned, the spill has caused a public relations nightmare for coastline tour companies, accommodation providers, and regional transportation businesses.

BP’s donation seems in many ways to be a symbolic gesture – the company has spent billions of dollars cleaning the gulf itself and ensuring that the well no longer leaks into the ocean. With the tourism industry slowly recovering – most visibly in Florida – it seems unusual that such a small grant is likely to have any effect on a national level.

For Mississippi’s struggling tourism industry, however, the grant is certainly a welcome gesture from the oil major. Visitors to the state have been surprisingly high, albeit still below targets that were set preceding the disaster. Local governments are aiming to use the funds efficiently, setting the bar relatively high and looking towards projected figures as a potential target.

The grant comes alongside a $15 million donation made to state authorities earlier in the year, one of several paid out within the United States. Fighting a public relations disaster, the oil company is looking to the affected states as a recovery opportunity, vowing to help move their tourism sectors back to profitability, stable occupancy, and environmental health.