Aug 22, 2010 6:39 PM by Chris Welty
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Officials along the Gulf Coast say tourists
are staying away from their beaches and other attractions becauigh occupancy ratar the region is coated in oil. Experts say that
perception could take years to overcome and cost billions of
The BP oil spill has been plugged for weeks. Beaches have been
cleaned of crude, and some never had oil wash up at all. Still,
officials say the millions they've spent trying to clean up their
image hasn't been enough to lure vacationers back.
Geoff Freeman of the U.S. Travel Association, a nonprofit trade
group, says it can take years for people's perceptions to change.
The association commissioned a study by the Oxford Economics
forecasting group, which found that the disaster could cost the
region as much as $23 billion by 2013.