My husband and I are both long time residents to the Gulf Coast. The sugar white beaches and transparent emerald waters have been a constant in our lives for as long as we can remember. So naturally, the thought of such a pristine and peaceful thing being destroyed by the BP Oil Spill is a devastating one. We currently reside in a town called Destin, FL., which thrives solely because of the tourism industry.
As the spill continues to expand and the media coverage grows, our concerns also grew for what we should expect. We saw report after report of oil soaked beaches inching closer and closer to us. Families that had already booked their vacations down here were seeing the same devastation on the news and have been calling relentlessly to get information concerning the spill and how it will impact their vacation. We, however, were at an advantage as we had the ability to take a drive to see for ourselves what impact nearby beaches had received. Which we did.
We took a three hour drive to Gulf Shores, Alabama and visited several beaches there and several on the way back. We were surprised to find something a lot less dramatic than what we had seen on T.V. In Gulf Shores, many of the larger messes had promptly been cleaned. Several globs could be seen, but the beaches stayed open and crowded and people merely avoided the oil. There wasn’t an overpowering odor while we were there. Several public Pensacola beaches were totally clean; save for a small pile of trash bags where it was evident workers had already been there and scoured the beaches. Our local Okaloosa Island was completely spotless.
That trip confirmed for me that our Live Interactive Web Cams will be a huge asset to our clients and the many people concerned about the current conditions. Our clients are already using them to let their guests know that at the moment there is not oil on the beach and the water it still crystal clear. Many visitors will be calling due to news reports that they are seeing and hearing. Those concerned vacationers will be able to log into the camera feed and “see for themselves” the condition of our local beaches. Which, as of right now, is still pristine. They will have the peace of mind in knowing that they are not being lied to, as those cameras are 100% live.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. I know several areas have already been catastrophically impacted by the oil. I am not trying to diminish the fact that the spill is a devastating issue, not only for beaches and tourism, but also for wildlife and careers. As a local, I am simply trying to share my experience and help keep people aware of the conditions down here. I am afraid that future vacationers to our area are experiencing media induced panic and frenzy prematurely. There may be a day when we cannot report positively and will have to band together and work diligently to keep our beaches clean. But I can assure you, we will. We love our beaches just as much as you do and will do what it take to ensure that they stay in the best condition possible.