More than 10 days after tar balls began washing up on a few panhandle beaches, the message to travelers is changing. In Mid-May it was “Florida is open for business.”
Then June 4th the first tar balls from the BP Oil Spill began washing up in Pensacola, and the message changed to “here is what you need to know.”
Now with two huge oil plumes just miles from Florida’s western most beaches, the state’s tourism agency is tweaking the message once again.
The new ad that began running in the Southeast Monday… moves the focus from Panhandle beaches and paints a broader picture of Florida’s coastline.
Will Seccombe with Visit Florida says the agency has to be flexible and keep travelers in the loop.
“Our messages are going to have to evolve as the impacts evolve and really at the most basic level it’s a hyper local event,” said Seccombe.
But Visit Florida isn’t abandoning the panhandle.
The new ad is only running once for every three times the Northwest Florida themed ad is running, but that could change if panhandle beaches begin to close.
But what will continue is the push to the Florida live website where travelers can see up to the minute pictures of different tourism hot spots across the state.
And so far the ad campaign has been successful in driving people to the web.
Since the campaign was launched on May 11th, the tourism websites have seen more than 300-thousand visits but overall tourism is still down from a year ago.
The good news is the message hasn’t changed too drastically from the time Visit Florida began its BP funded tourism campaign.
So far the oil that has washed up in Florida has been mainly tar balls and it’s taken a lot longer to get here than experts predicted.