Tourism officials hope oil cap is here to stay

Alabama Tourism Director, Lee Sentell
Alabama Tourism Director, Lee Sentell

Posted by: Melissa McKinney - bio | email

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - "We have our fingers crossed that it's going to stay good news," says Alabama Tourism Director, Lee Sentell.

He says seeing no oil coming from the oil well in the gulf is a refreshing sight.

"It's the first time we've seen this picture on television that's not got stuff bubbling out the top of it," he says referencing a live picture of the capped oil well where thousands of gallons of oil were being spilled into the Gulf of Mexico daily.

While it's not known how long the cap will stay, Sentell says any good news could help get people back to the beach.

"If this holds for the next two or three days or certainly the next two weeks, then I think people who have been planning to come to the beach or thinking about it for Labor Day weekend or sometime earlier may say, 'ok, the news is positive,'" adds Sentell.

But not everyone's convinced.

"Honestly, I had a kinda pessimistic view," says Montgomery resident, Angelica Agee.

Agee worries the cap won't work for long.

"It seems like people don't know what they're doing. I really would like to see a more long term solution. And the fact that it took this long to get this done just leaves me to really have a lot of doubts."

Sentell says tourism at Alabama's beaches is down 50%.  But he believes a June ad campaign to get folks back was successful--not to mention the free Jimmy Buffet concert.

"For several days, it made people stop thinking about negative things going on on the coast. It gave people an opportunity to celebrate and party."

Sentell hopes to keep that feeling alive as officials plan more concerts on the coast.

"It gives people a real good reason to come to the beach when they don't have to get in the water. So, it can be good for the whole family."

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