Despite the BP oil spill, the worst environmental disaster in US history, most beaches along the Gulf of Mexico remain open and ready for visitors. One of the best ways you can help resort communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida is to travel there and spend your money in the local, family-owned restaurants, boutiques, B&Bs and other businesses whose survival is at stake.
Here’s how to protect your vacation — and their lives —
Orbitz has launched an Open Beach Guarantee, developed in partnership with participating Florida hotels. This program will give you a full refund on your hotel if the beach within 20 miles of your hotel is declared dangerous or shut down by a government agency. The money back offer applies to travel through July 31, 2010, and only at hotels booked through Orbitz.
Orbitz also has an Oil Spill Resource Center for up-to-date travel information about the oil spill and its impact along the Gulf of Mexico. The website includes detailed trajectory maps from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), local volunteer opportunities, and links to government and tourism websites.
The tourism council of The Florida Keys and Key West also has launched a new website and YouTube channel to keep visitors and volunteers up-to-date. Each weekend, videographers are invited to tape visitors enjoying water-related and other vacation offerings in the Keys and share one-minute edited videos, one of which will be featured as Video of the Week. There is no monetary prize — just the knowledge that you are doing something important to help clean up the catastrophic mess caused by BT and TransOcean, and also save some small family businesses, too.
There are lots of airline flights to Gulf Coast cities, and lots of cheap seats right now. Whether you are heading to the resort communities or the Gulf of Mexico most impacted by the BP oil spill, or somewhere else, it’s always wise to have travel insurance. Find more info in my article on why you should never leave home without travel insurance