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BP must help bring tourists back to Florida: governor

by Staff Writers
Miami (AFP) May 12, 2010
Florida Governor Charlie Crist wants oil giant BP to pay 34 million dollars for a advertising campaign designed to bring back tourists who are canceling trips after news of a Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Authorities say the southwestern state is suffering high visitor cancellation rates because tourists mistakenly believe that a giant oil slick is washing up on Florida beaches.

Crist said he would do whatever was necessary to ensure visitor rates went back up, including calling on British Petroleum, which leased the rig that exploded last month, to pay for a new advertising campaign to explain the state's beaches remained untouched.

"Florida will continue to be one of the world's top tourist destinations," he said.

"We are working closely with our federal partners and BP to protect Florida's beaches and the communities, businesses and entire industries potentially impacted by the Gulf oil spill," Crist said.

Tourism is a major economic driver for Florida, providing 21 percent of the state's total taxable sale.

More than one million people are employed in the state's tourism sector, which in 2008 generated 65.2 billion dollars directly and provided the state with 3.9 billion dollars in tax revenues.

The majority of Florida's foreign visitors come from Europe, and Crist said he was meeting with members of the EU's diplomatic corps in the United States to discuss his state's tourism sector, as well as trade and investment.

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