Gulf beaches are open, but misperceptions abound

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The Independent Travel

A survey of American travelers has revealed that the perceived impact of the Gulf oil spill is far greater than it actually is.

Travelocity, which conducted the poll of 2,000 travelers, says that "misperceptions abound" after finding that many American tourists believe the oil that spilled from the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico has spread far beyond its actual reach.

One in four respondents, for instance, named the Florida Keys as one of the top three destinations they thought were impacted by the spill, and one in four also named Panama City as affected, although the beaches are clean and open.

With the oil spill now stemmed, tourism officials are keen to stress that almost none of their Gulf Coast destinations are impacted as they attempt to salvage what's left of the summer.

Florida's tourism authorities say that it is now "very unlikely that the Western Gulf Coast, South Florida, the Florida Keys, and the East Coast will experience any effects from the remaining oil on the surface of the Gulf."

Alabama Tourism says that for several weeks, it has experienced little to no oil impact, and that its beaches are open and clean.

On August 9, it lifted swimming advisories that were in place in the gulf waters off Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan.

Mississippi authorities say that the "Mississippi Gulf Coast beaches are open and beach vendors are ready to rent you beach chairs, umbrellas, aqua cycles, jet skis, and more."

In an update on August 9, Louisana's Office of Tourism said that "most of the Louisiana Gulf Coast is unaffected by the oil spill," although around the southeast coast of the state there is still an "area of uncertainty" that extends around the origin of the spill.

The spill has prompted both Travelocity and its main competitor Expedia to offer assistance to both businesses and tourists affected by the spill.

Expedia has pledged extensive online support from its brands Expedia.com, hotels.com and TripAdvisor, while Travelocity has offered a Gulf Beach Guarantee refund if beaches are closed close to its customers' destination.

http://www.travelocity.com

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