ST. PETERSBURG – BP has rejected a $50 million request from Florida Gov. Charlie Crist to help promote the state’s tourism industry.
Crist made the announcement at a roundtable discussion about the economic effects of the oil spill in St. Petersburg Tuesday.
At the beginning of the spill, Crist asked for and received $25 million from BP to promote Florida’s beaches. Most of that was used on a campaign that focused on the panhandle.
Crist said BP won’t pony up another $50 million to continue the advertising campaign, even as BP’s own ads promoting its cleanup effort saturate the airwaves.
“The notion that they’re spending who knows how much on trying to put a good face on BP as a corporation…what’s the point? How does that help us here?” Crist asked.
A spokesman for BP says the company has already given state money for tourism promotion, and does not see a need to give more at this time.
At the meeting, Florida tourism and government officials said the cancellations and property declines would continue for some time, even if BP succeeds in capturing most of the oil with a new cap.
They told stories of declining hotel taxes and cancelled real-estate deals that they blame on the oil spill.
They say coverage of the oil spill is scaring off tourists, even though most of the state’s beaches remain pristine.