GULF OF MEXICO (WLBT) - BP is awarding big money to states that could be affected by the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The company is handing out 70-million dollars to four states whose tourism industries are at stake.
Mississippi gets 15-million dollars to lure wary vacationers to the state's coastal areas.
Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama have been ramping up new television and radio advertising to get the word out that they are open for business.
Early on, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour urged calm amid worries of an ecological disaster. He said some media coverage has been inaccurate.
"Something bad may happen. We may have a big clean up. We are prepared for that. Until then, come on down here, play golf, enjoy the beach, catch a fish and pay a little sales tax," said Barbour.
Most recently, the governor warned the oil spill has the potential to impact many small businesses and in some cases, already has.
May marks the beginning of prime time for summer vacations on the water, yet the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association said phones are not ringing off the hook for reservations.
Governor Barbour's spokesman told WLBT the Magnolia State's advertising begins this weekend, adding there is an urgency in getting the message out.
"Mississippi intends to use 15 million for damage control against a perception that the beaches and waters of the gulf are soiled," said the governor's spokesperson. "But is it too little too late?"
The Mississippi Development Authority said it wants to bring tourism dollars into the state this summer. The coast is a vital revenue source for the state bringing in over 1.8-billion dollars.
Wednesday marked the 30th day since the explosion, and so far, no oil has been found on Mississippi shoreline.
New underwater video released by BP showed oil and gas erupting in large, dark clouds. Leaks resembled a geyser on land.
No one knows exactly where the oil will end up, but experts say currents could take the spill around the tip of Florida.
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