A recent analysis by the Press-Register over in Alabama sheds some additional light on the geography of oil spill losses, suggesting that lost sales and lodging tax receipts did not always directly correlate with oil on the beaches.
The survey only runs as far west as Franklin County. But it shows that the Florida counties that did get oil on their beaches saw some of the largest declines in tax revenue in the entire Gulf region, in part because they didn’t enjoy as much of a boost from an influx of BP cleanup crews, which stuck around longer in areas farther west, where more oil came ashore. Still, Florida could recover sooner, because the damage may not last as long:
“BP hired a ton of people to come down and work, and those people ate in restaurants and stayed in hotels,” said Loren Scott, a Baton Rouge, La., economist. “I don’t think (tax figures) would have gained more without the spill. Increases of any more than 3 percent or 4 percent, it’s got to be the spill.”
Experts said that winners and losers could change over the long run.
The beach communities in Baldwin [County, Ala.] and the Florida Panhandle could make a quick comeback if oil cleanup efforts are successful and tourists can be lured back. Dan Rowe, the chief executive officer of the Panama City Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, said that when reporters zero in on the April 20 anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion, he hopes to use the attention to persuade visitors to return.