Thursday, May 27, 2010

I am sending out this special bulletin to set the record straight.

Florida’s beaches are beautiful, the fish are biting and the only oil on our beaches is suntan oil. Now is a great time to enjoy our beautiful state.

I have been calling for immediate help for our coastal communities and small businesses and demanding answers from BP. I also urged Governor Crist to use his authority as Governor to request state and federal emergency small business loans and activate economic disaster relief. The Governor has done this, and the Small Business Administration is making low-interest loans to small businesses in need. I opened a consumer helpline, 1-877-My-FL-CFO, and have outlined tips to help businesses in case they might need the BP claims process. The most important tip is to be sure to keep detailed records of all oil-related cancellations and business losses.

But you wouldn’t know it from the news reports and headlines that focus only on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Don’t get me wrong, that subject bears coverage. But the coverage so far has not told the whole story, and that has hurt our state’s tourism industry. Even worse, no Panhandle beaches will appear on this year’s list of Top 10 Beaches in the U.S. The cited reason: the threat from the oil spill. The Panhandle has won the No. 1 spot on the list more than any other geographic area, and remains untouched by the oil spill. Let me say that again, there is NO oil on our beaches!

In the past month, I have met with small business owners from the Panhandle to the Keys who tell me they are already feeling the economic impact from this disaster. On one of my last visits to the Panhandle, I spoke to a boat captain who told me about a call he got from a national reporter who asked to interview him about the fish he was supposedly pulling from the oily water. The reporter wanted to know what the fish looked like. The captain said he was not pulling fish from the oil because there was no oil. The reporter put the captain on hold purportedly to take another call, then came back on the line and said he would have to call him back. The boat captain never got a call back.

I have been calling for immediate help for our coastal communities and small businesses and demanding answers from BP. I also urged Governor Crist to use his authority as Governor to request state and federal emergency small business loans and activate economic disaster relief. The Governor has done this, and the Small Business Administration is making low-interest loans to small businesses in need. I opened a consumer helpline and have outlined tips to help businesses in case they might need to access the BP claims process. The most important tip is to be sure to keep detailed records of any losses.Swim in the surf.

I also asked BP to fund a global advertising campaign and $25 million arrived on Tuesday to get the word out that Florida's beaches and waters are free of oil. The amount provided thus far is a good step, but it is nowhere near what is needed to protect Florida’s $60 billion tourism industry.

So, it’s up to us to get the word out. Tell your friends and family that our beaches are open for business and now is the time to visit. Don’t miss out on our miles of unspoiled sand for relaxing Fish are biting on Florida shoreswalks on the beach, the wide-open Gulf and the most beautiful sunsets you’ll see anywhere.

Take that beach vacation you have been planning - bring your swimsuit, sunscreen, beach towel and that book you have been wanting to read. Also be sure to plan to get out on the water - the fish are biting!

Families on the beachWalk along the shore

Sand and sun on a Florida beach

The Sunshine State - Open for BusinessVisitFlorida.com can show you how with vacation packages to suit you and your family. Don’t wait – you can still make it for Memorial Day weekend.

Take the time for Florida sunshine - and the new Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport in Panama City is now open, making the trip to the Panhandle an easy flight away.

Alex




Alex Sink
CFO, State of Florida