Tourists head to Alabama beaches despite threat of oil spill

By Eric Sollman - bio | email

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Travel has taken a hit across the Gulf from the big leak, but the Alabama Department of Tourism director says reservations along the state's coast are strong for Memorial Day weekend.

Tourism in Gulf Shores is more than a two billion dollar industry. The Alabama Department of Tourism said that Memorial Day reservations for places like Orange Beach and Gulf Shores have been picking up in the past 10 days.

State Senator Lowell Barron has said market experts predict the damage to the entire Gulf coast tourism industry to exceed $750 million.

In Alabama, BP is giving the state an additional $15 million on top the initial $25 million. A lot of this money is, or will be used on advertising campaigns in the realm of travel and tourism.

Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks, a Democratic candidate for Governor, says more of the state's tax base is in danger.

"What happens when the property value goes down? What happens when the sales tax isn't coming into the state? What happens to the hotel tax that we're not going to get because people are canceling their vacations to Alabama?"

Fortunately, The Alabama Department of Tourism says a month has passed without significant problems, and that Alabama beaches are still as beautiful as ever.

©2010 WAFF. All rights reserved.