It’s the peak of Miami’s warm summer, and tourists are nowhere to be seen. The city, usually one of the United States’ top summer tourism destinations, remains almost completely devoid of travellers or families, despite clear skies and a comfortable temperature. It’s a frequent scene throughout other cities in the region, and despite a series of pro-tourism efforts it seems unlikely to disappear.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill was one of the most devastating in US history, filling the country’s southern coast with hundreds-of-thousands of gallons of unwelcome crude oil. But it doesn’t look as if the oil is scaring away tourists – from Miami’s beaches it’s not even remotely visible – but reports of its presence. Despite a fairly clean southern coastline, tourists are afraid to venture to the gulf.
It’s a sad state of affairs, particularly as the region’s fishing industry is at real risk of collapse. With a two-month string of media reports, ‘on-the-scene’ press attention, and editorial content describing it as America’s ‘disaster zone’, the Gulf Coast and its neighbouring states are in the midst of one of the worst tourism seasons in recent history. From Louisiana to Florida, hotels are beaches are deserted.
It’s a ‘disaster’ that’s been almost completely manufactured, although the oil spill itself hasn’t closed in on the regions in question. Cleanup efforts have left the Gulf Coast largely free of any excess oil, although fears produced by the nation’s media have contributed to a lack of understanding in major cities and points outside of the region. Even a visit from the President himself can’t save the gulf.
Industry experts believe it could cause long-term damage, citing the heavy press coverage’s effects on the area’s reputation. Others believe that the Gulf Coast and Florida may rebound once national holidayers witness their cleanliness and lack of damage. Whatever the future circumstances, today is not a happy day for Florida’s large and essential tourism and hospitality industry.