Now BP is asked to fund Gulf tourist campaigns

Cleaning up an oil spill, especially one on a truly epic scale, is an expensive business as Gulf of Mexico perpetrator BP is finding out. Now the oil giant, which is already facing clean-up bills running into billions and the many lawsuits that will undoubtedly follow, is being asked to fund tourism campaigns to show that Gulf states from Florida to Texas are open for business.

Mississippi governor Haley Barbour says he’s already been promised $500,000 for a campaign to reassure tourists and Alabama says it has spent $200,000 extra already, which it would like to get back. Others are asking for $7.5m for a regional campaign that would buy three national TV spots a days.

BP CEO Tony Hayward, who’s probably wishing he’d chosen a different career, says he’ll look at all reasonable requests.

The tourist industry in the Gulf states is reckoned to be worth about $20bn and will no doubt be hit by the ongoing spill. It will doubtless attract its share of rubberneckers too although it’s unlikely that Hayward and BP will succeed in subtracting their contribution to the economy from the final bill.

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