Atlantic beaches look to woo tourists away from Gulf

Associated Press - May 11, 2010 3:14 AM ET COLUMBIA, SC (AP) - Hotel clerks along the Gulf Coast are busy answering calls about a massive oil spill and whether they will refund the money of vacationers who have booked rooms there.

The answer is typically no.

Phones are also steadily ringing for tourism officials hundreds of miles away at Atlantic Coast beaches like Hilton Head Island, S. C., as they delicately try to lure vacationers away without appearing to profit from the disaster.

Millions of gallons of oil have spewed from a well at the ocean floor since an offshore drilling rig exploded in the Gulf on April 20. Balls of tar began washing up on an Alabama beach over the weekend.

Vacationers who have already booked are tracking the spill online, and many have been told they'll face a steep penalty for backing out. Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.