Tourism/travel news, updates & discussions about Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas & Mexico. Please add your own thoughts, questions & observations!

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  • Press release 7/1:

    National Tour Association and Edelman to Host Free Crisis and Media Relations Seminars for Gulf Coast Region

    The National Tour Association (NTA) and Edelman Public Relations are presenting a series of free seminars titled “Practical Skills for the Oil Spill Crisis: Managing Media Relations and Building Business through a Crisis.” The seminars, open to all members of the travel and tourism industry and others impacted by the crisis, have been scheduled for July 13 at the Mississippi Gulf Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Mississippi and for July 14 at the Municipal Auditorium in Houma, Louisiana. NTA and Edelman are working to schedule seminars in Alabama and Florida the last week of July.

    The half-day seminars will offer practical advice that can be used immediately by participants. Speakers will include Edelman’s experts in crisis, media and social media relations as well as NTA’s experts with tour operator communications...

    Registration is currently open for the July 13 seminar in Mississippi and the July 14 seminar in Louisiana at Please contact NTA Public Relations Specialist Madeline Vied at with questions regarding the seminars."
  • Anna Maria Island & Longboat Key, Florida welcome anglers for exceptional Gulf Coast fishing. Offshore guides are reeling in mutton snapper and sailfish in record amounts within 20 miles from shore, and inshore and backwater guides are hot for the tarpon bite just a few miles from shore and on the passes surrounding the islands. According to area guides, the water is unusually clear and the fishery healthy, promising a strong summer season.

    “Florida remains the Fishing Capital of the World,” said Lee Schlesinger, spokesman, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. “The beautiful and bountiful Gulf waters off Southwest Florida are open to anglers and the fishing is as good as it’s ever been.”

    In addition to fishing, outdoor recreation opportunities on Anna Maria Island and Longboat Key abound, including swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking, boating, and horse surfing. Located approximately 490 miles southeast of the Florida Panhandle, Anna Maria Island & Longboat Key are in no immediate jeopardy of seeing oil on their beaches and welcome visitors to the destination’s restaurants and area attractions.

    Please visit for live web cams and daily YouTube video updates showcasing clean beaches and summer fun on Florida’s Gulf Islands.
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  • 7/2 update from Visit Pensacola:

    "Beach conditions: All gulf beaches in Escambia County are now under a health advisory that will remain in effect until beaches are no long impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The advisory, issued by the Escambia County Health Department, is for all beaches, including Pensacola Beach, Perdido Key and the portions of the Gulf Islands National Seashore fronting the Gulf of Mexico. The advisory was issued Thursday afternoon due to reports of extensive tar balls, oil mousse and oil sheen in the water. Swimming is not prohibited but swimmers are warned they swim at their own risk.

    The advisory warns against coming in contact with any oil either in the water or on the beach or with wildlife that has been impacted by the oil.

    Consider the following tips for avoiding negative health impacts from an oiled shoreline:

    * Avoid entering areas where oil can be seen (no wading, swimming or entering the water).
    * Avoid direct skin contact with oil, oil-contaminated water and sediments.
    * Do not swim or ski in areas affected by the oil spill, and if traveling through the area by boat take precautions when hoisting the boat anchor. If oil makes contact with the skin, wash it off with grease-cutting liquid dishwashing detergent and water."
  • 7/2 update from in Gulf Shores, Alabama:

  • FB Post this morning 7/2 from city council member Steve Jones in Gulf Shores, Alabama:

    "Okay! From the boardwalk it looks great because our huge beach is back. As you walk south you encounter a long solid line east and west of emulsified oil, tar balls, and pancakes. Beyond that the beach looks great all the way to the water line. Nothing new washing up at this time and the water looks great in this locat...ion. If the sand were drier we could run our machines and pick it up right now, but we'll need conditions to improve before we can. My guess is by this time tomorrow this area will be cleaned up!

    The good news is I saw no new materials washing up at this location and there is clean beach between the surf and the high water line left last night."
  • From South Padre Island Emergency FB page 7/1:

    "Barring any challenges from tides or weather, the beaches of South Padre Island should reopen Friday."

    Jennifer Mann Ezzell: "The city has trucks and bulldozers cleaning up the beaches!! I saw utility workers repairing power lines on the bay side. Yay!!!"
  • 7/1 update from Louisiana Office of Tourism:

    "Much of the Louisiana Gulf Coast is unaffected by the oil spill and remains open for commercial and recreational fishing.

    All nine Louisiana coastal parishes (counties) continue to offer travelers historic and cultural attractions, world-acclaimed indigenous food and music, and notable restaurants and overnight accommodations.

    The primary affected area is around the mouth of the Mississippi River in the southeast region of Louisiana. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast maps identify an 'area of uncertainty' that extends around the origin of the spill.

    Affected coastal areas, as well as areas of uncertainty, have been closed to fishing by the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries in portions of Jefferson, Lafourche, Plaquemines, St. Bernard and Terrebonne parishes.

    Recreational and commercial fishing is unaffected off the coast of Cameron, Iberia, St. Mary and Vermilion parishes. Lake Pontchartrain and Lake Borgne are open to fishing. Grand Isle has closed its public beach. Public beaches in Cameron Parish are unaffected and open for fishing and recreation.

    When LDWF receives reports of possible oil, the agency closes those areas and initiates field surveys and seafood testing with the intent to be as safe as possible. As test results come back clearing the area, effected waters are then reopened. For a map of current fishing closures, visit

    Hurricane Alex made landfall in northern Mexico late Wednesday as a Category 2 storm and has been downgraded to a tropical storm. The storm did not directly impact the area around the oil spill. Gulf cleanup efforts briefly suspended due to sea conditions created by Alex are expected to resume soon.

    Louisiana crawfish are a freshwater shellfish species and all commercial crawfish ponds and natural habitat are inland and away from threatened areas.

    Few affected areas are near inhabited areas. New Orleans is approximately 100 miles inland from affected areas and foresees no disruption in guest service or any negative impacts on visitors."

    Please return to this page frequently as new information will be provided here as soon as it becomes available to the Office of Tourism.

    Visitors with concerns about plans to travel in Louisiana are encouraged to contact their destinations directly. Information is also available from local convention and visitors bureaus.
  • From New Orleans Times Picayune:

    Beach Business Operators Anticipate Unwanted Leisure Over Holiday weekend
    by Katy Reckdahl

    "As perhaps the busiest beach weekend of the summer cranks up, tar balls and mats of oil driven northward by currents from Hurricane Alex have begun pummelling the Mississippi coast, which had mostly avoiding damage in the first two months of the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.

    Over the past three days, Mississippi has been taking a beating from "a sizeable amount of tar balls and tar mats," said Richard Forester, head of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau."

    The white sand beaches of Gulf Shores, Ala., for instance, were also recently socked with black goop, causing officials to ban swimming in the waters for most of the week and causing bookings to nosedive to 50 percent for the upcoming holiday weekend, when most white-sand beaches would be packed with vacationers."

    Even places that haven't seen much oil are feeling the sting. Media reports about the spill have nearly emptied Dauphin Island, despite beaches that are open and water that's still clear -- although with the occasional tar balls that have become the new norm at most Gulf Coast beaches...

    Forester said Mississippi hotels were not seeing many new cancellations because many Biloxi and Gulfport tourists are drawn to the casinos and may not even set foot on the beach...

    As Gulf Shores put up the double red flags, signaling closed swimming waters, some tourists reacted by booking rooms farther east of the oil slick, in Fort Walton and Destin. So far, in that area, not a single beach or stretch of water has been closed, said Jeanne Dailey, of Newman-Dailey Resort Properties, which has booked 88 percent of its properties for this weekend, a noticeable but not catastrophic drop from the firm's typical 98 percent July 4th weekend occupancy rate."
  • From South Florida Business Journal 7/1:

    AAA: Visitors Still Coming to Gulf Coast

    A recently completed AAA Consumer Pulse survey on travel itineraries in light of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico shows 32 percent of respondents plan to visit Florida in the next 12 months and, of those, 52 percent plan to visit Florida’s Gulf Coast.

    Out of the Gulf Coast visitors, the survey shows 87 percent have not made any changes to their travel plans in the past 30 days. Of the 13 percent who did, 21 percent attribute the changes to the Gulf oil spill compared to zero in the benchmark survey conducted by AAA May 24-28.

    Other findings from the survey:

    * Sixty percent of respondents have a negative perception of Florida’s Panhandle beach conditions for swimming and other recreational activities, while 24 percent have a similarly negative perception of Florida’s west coast beaches. AAA speculated the negative perception may be attributed to the high number of respondents (85 percent) who said they closely follow news of the oil disaster.
    * Of survey respondents planning to visit Florida’s Gulf Coast, 23 percent plan to do so during the upcoming Independence Day weekend. Twenty-nine percent of those recently made changes to their travel plans because of the oil spill (53 percent), a destination change (24 percent) or they simply canceled their plans (23 percent).

    The survey was conducted online June 24-28 among a total of 1,519 respondents; of those, 484 plan to visit Florida.
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OK, what I'm going to say might make me sound like a jerk, but here goes: Last night I was having a heated discussion with my girlfriend , whose sister was planning to spend a week on the Florida panhandle in August (she'd bought tickets before the BP oil spill) and is now looking into canceling her tickets. My girlfriend thinks her sister should go anyway and show solidarity with the poor folks on the coast, and help them out with her vacation dollars. It's true those poor people need all the…

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The Fla Panhandle

I recently visited the FL Panhandle. I was impressed with how everyone kept things going despite the misperceptions on how the oil spill has affected nearby areas. Everything is alive and well from Destin to Panama City.   My first feature from the trip is on YOLO Boarding. Check it out here.   The next feature will discuss the rise of Alys Beach and much more. We will have it all up on Mens Traveler.    beaches.jpg

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Road Trip to Apalachicola

I'd like to drive over to Apalachicola from Miami in a few days. It seems to me that the oil spill is not affecting this area (my heart goes out to all the areas affected now or in the future). Can someone provide more information on the current conditions there? Are oysters still being served? Also, any stops that you recommend on my way, or in that area? My interests are: dog friendly, slow food, nature & hiking.

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