That’s the news from BP CEO Tony Hayward, after a closed-door meeting with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist. It’s the second $25 million grant the company has given the state since their Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and started spewing oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The funds are in addition to $25 million BP earlier this month gave Florida to help implement an area contingency plan.
State officials have been calling for an ad campaign as Panhandle beach resorts and restaurants head into their 90-day tourist season. Despite the oil plume still 70 miles from Florida’s closest beaches in Pensacola, business owners there say they’ve already lost millions as tourists cancel reservations or wait to schedule their trip.
The campaign will emphasize Florida’s coastal areas are open for business. Hayward says BP wants people along the coast to get back to a normal way of life and he hopes the ads will help.
“What we have decided today is to allocate a grant of $25 million to Florida for advertising over the next two to three months to make the point that Florida is open for business. The beaches are open and clean, the fish as the governor has said are biting and everything is normal down here.”
BP is also giving $15 million to Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.
RBR-TVBR observation: This is a great time to contact Visit Florida, the state’s official tourism marketing corporation (which is getting the money), as to how your station(s) can help the state bring folks in from your market. Another angle would be to seek out a few coastal hotels that would be willing to give away free stays to listeners/viewers as part of a marketing package.