Based on a landmark analysis of 25 recent natural and man-made disasters, Oxford Economics today projected that the effects of the BP oil spill on travel to the Gulf Coast are likely to last up to three years and cost the region $22.7 billion. An aggressive and comprehensive $500 million effort to attract visitors to the Gulf Coast could reduce the total economic impact by $7.5 billion.
"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," said Adam Sacks, managing director of Oxford Economics USA.
"Travel is a perception business and the impact of disasters like the BP oil spill on the industry is actually predictable," said Roger Dow, president and CEO of the U.S. Travel Association. "We know from this research that the oil spill will have long-term effects on businesses and jobs in the Gulf Coast region unless we counteract the usual course of events with an unprecedented response."
In an effort to save the coastal region’s 400,000 travel industry jobs, the U.S. Travel Association complemented the release of the Oxford Economics study with a "Roadmap to Recovery," a 10-point plan for government to help communities in crisis by implementing specific action steps that inform public perceptions, incentivize travel to an affected area and make impacted businesses whole.
Specific proposals for the federal government include:
* Create a $500 million marketing program, funded by BP, to share accurate information on the oil spill and attract visitors to the region
* Develop a one-stop online portal where consumers can obtain up-to-the-minute information about which areas are safe and open for travel and business
* Provide tax deductions in a disaster-affected area to give travelers added incentive to travel to and do business in that region
* Intervene to provide increased access to capital, low interest loans and tax incentives that allow businesses to remain open and retain employees
"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,” said Dow. “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.”