It’s been more than six months since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill raised questions about whether Gulf of Mexico destinations from Texas to Florida would be able to maintain their blue waters, white-sand beaches and fresh seafood production. But by all accounts, businesses and beaches are open and welcoming all meetings and events. Here are some destination updates:
Deep cleaning of the beaches began on Oct. 18, and only required closing 100 yards of the 32-mile beach at a time. Guests can contact their hotel or rental management company to check the cleaning schedule. The waters are open for fishing.
Only 4 percent of the Gulf of Mexico is closed to fishing; all Florida beaches are open for recreation.
The beach shows only minor impact with small scattered tar balls and oil patches that have not disrupted visitors.
All beaches in Escambia County (Pensacola Beach, Perdido Keyand Gulf Islands National Seashore) are open for swimming and fishing, with minimal reports of oil and tar balls. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission reopened coastal state waters to the harvest of saltwater fish. [Updated Sept. 1]
Reporting only isolated small tar balls and very small flakes of oil, only a few BP cleanup crews remain, and all beaches are “open for enjoyment and beachgoers.” [Updated Oct.1]
This area was luckily never impacted by the oil spill. Their “Book with Confidence” guarantee makes visitors a promise: if they find the beaches have been affected by the oil spill in any way, the first night, including taxes and resort fees, will be 100 percent refunded. Orbitz.com offers a Open Beach guarantee which says they will offer refunds on standalone hotel reservations if any beach within 20 miles of that hotel is closed due to oil. [Updated Oct. 27]
Seafood from Louisiana is safe and healthy to eat; 100 percent of Louisiana waters are open to recreational fishing. Tourism is still up in New Orleans, with many different events going on.
All Mississippi territorial waters and federal waters are open to commercial and recreational fishing. All barrier islands and beaches in Hancock, Harrison and Jackson Counties are open, though there are some cleanup crews present. [Updated Sept. 23]
Coastal cities report oil-free beaches.