As ThinkProgress reported yesterday, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) has been an outlier amongst Gulf Coast governors, downplaying the BP oil spill instead of working to mitigate the disaster and rethinking the wisdom of offshore drilling. He has claimed that this new spill “it isn’t anything like Exxon Valdez” and is encouraging visitors to “[c]ome on down here and play golf, enjoy the beach, catch a fish.” Now, Mississippi officials are encouraging tourists to use more oil, offering people gas cards if they come to the region:
Gov. Haley Barbour said that the Mississippi Gulf Coast is open for business, despite the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
In an effort to encourage tourism, Mississippi Gulf Coast officials are offering $75 gas cards for those who book a two-night stay at one of the participating hotels or resorts listed online at www.gulfcoast.org. Resident can also sign up online for a chance to win one of four getaway packages.
Hotel room cancellations are above 50 percent right now, even though the Mississippi beaches are clear of oil, said Linda Hornsby, director of the Hotel and Lodging Association.
State tourism officials are planning to pressure BP to “pay $7.5 million a month for a national advertising campaign” in the aftermath of the oil spill. While encouraging tourism to the region is important, it’s also necessary to be honest about the environmental damage of the spill, and as questions arise about U.S. dependency on oil, offering gas cards might not be the best idea.