Study: Oil Spill's Impact on Travel Could Cost Gulf $22.7 Billion

Oil Spill (TN)

Having studied 25 recent natural and manmade disasters, Oxford Economics has concluded that the effects of the BP oil spill on travel to the Gulf Coast are likely to last up to three years and could cost the region up to $22.7 billion — although an "aggressive and comprehensive" tourism campaign could reduce the total economic impact by $7.5 billion, the U.S. Travel Association announced yesterday.


"History and current trends indicate a potential $22.7 billion economic loss to the travel economies of the Gulf Coast states over the next three years," Oxford Economics Managing Director Adam Sacks said in a statement. "One of the most cost-effective ways to mitigate these damages is to immediately fund strategic marketing to counter misperceptions and encourage travel to the region."

According to the U.S. Travel Association, it will take $500 million to mitigate with marketing the effects of the oil spill on travel.

"Travel is a perception business and the impact of disasters like the BP oil spill on the industry is actually predictable," said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow. "We call on the federal government to immediately secure the $500 million necessary to operate an effective marketing program and prevent billions of dollars in economic harm to the Gulf Coast. It is not too late to save Gulf Coast jobs and keep attracting the visitors that can prevent further damage to these vital American communities."

In an effort to save the Gulf Coast's 400,000 travel industry jobs, the U.S. Travel Association has released in conjunction with the new Oxford Economics study a "Roadmap to Recovery" that offers a 10-point plan for the federal government. In addition to creating the $500 million marketing campaign, the plan calls on the government to:

• Develop a "one-stop shop" online portal where consumers can get information about Gulf Coast destinations;
• Provide tax deductions in disaster-affected areas to incentivize travelers; and
• Intervene to provide access to capital and low-interest loans that will allow Gulf Coast businesses to remain open and retain employees.

For more information about the Oxford Economics study, visit www.ustravel.org to download an executive summary on the research and highlights from the U.S. Travel Association's Roadmap to Recovery.