Billboards Show Clean Beaches

A Gulf Coast town is using digital billboards to show its beaches are oil free.

The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig has hurt tourism along the Gulf Coast, even in those areas where the massive oil spill hasn’t touched the shore.”Tourism is already being affected and will only decline in the weeks and months to come,” Alabama State Sen.Lowell Barron told theTimesJournal, an Alabama newspaper.

“Marketing experts are predicting the damage to the entire Gulf Coast tourism industry will exceed $750 million – and that’s just one industry.”Memorial Day weekend is the traditional opening of tourism season throughout much of the country, and the Gulf Coast is no different. Thousands of tourists typically drive from inland locales in the Southeast to the beaches, clogging highways and filling hotel rooms. But maybe not this year.

According to an analysis published in USA Today, internet searches for hotelsalong the Gulf Coast have plummeted in recent weeks, leading some travel experts to expect a significant reduction in rooms booked, even though the oil slick hasn’t reached (and in somecases, is not expected to reach) the Florida and Alabama beaches. Panama City Beach, FL, one of the cities perceived to be in danger from the spill, is fighting back using outdoor advertising. The city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) has booked space on 25 digital billboards in “drive” markets such as Atlanta, GA, Montgomery and Birmingham, AL, and Nashville and Knoxville, TN.

Each day, CVB staff members take aphoto of one of Panama City’s beaches and upload the photo to the digital billboards. The photos are marked with a date and the copy reads “Clear Waters and Clean Beaches.” The addition of the photograph lets drivers see with their own eyes the oil spill has not affected Panama City.

“All this is designed to reinforce to the traveling public that our beaches are as beautiful as they have always been and we have no oil,” Bay County Tourist Development Council Executive Director Dan Rowe told the News Herald, a Panama City newspaper.This isn’t the first time tourism officials in Florida have turned to digital billboards to advertise new events and information. Panama City billboards have featured a daily countdown to the arrival of the first Southwest Airlines flight into a local airport. They have also figured prominently inadvertising campaigns centering on Super Bowls held in Tampa and Miami.The success of the Panama City Beachproject, which is paid for by CVB funds, means the concept could be expanded.

Florida has been given $25 million from the oil giant BP to offset the expected losses in tourism caused by the oil spill.

Billboard Connection

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