What should the proper response of the U.S. travel and tourism industry be to British Petroleum's oil leak disaster? (BP defines it as the "MC252 oil well incident.") Of course it should be furious and prepared to seek compensation for physical damage (if and when that happens) as well as business lost. On Monday of this week, BP announced grants to each of the states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana to help their governors promote tourism around the shores of the Gulf of Mexico over the coming months. BP will provide $25 million to Florida and $15 million each to Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. That money will certainly help but if oil starts hitting the coastlines of the affected states in significant amounts, the states are going to need a heckuva lot more money to address the problem.
I checked the American Hotel & Lodging Association website and there still has not been an official response made to the oil spill. Why not? The U.S. Travel Association issued a statement early on that it was working with member organizations in the affected states to monitor the situation but it also still has not taken an official stance critical of the spill. Again, why not? We should all be furious!
The truth is that our industry, like every single one of us, is extremely addicted to what BP was drilling for in the Gulf of Mexico. Oil, at least for now, is our industry's oxygen. While yelling about corporate irresponsibility and the damage being done to the water and life of the Gulf of Mexico, we should all be thinking about how to transition to cleaner, renewable energy. In the meantime, however, we do have every right to be furious. I just wish our industry would collectively express that more forcefully.