Tourism steady in John’s Pass, seven years after BP oil spill

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Business owners at John’s Pass say tourism remains steady, seven years after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The deep water rig exploded and sank in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20th 2010.

More than three million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf.

The leak was capped months later.

The spill impacted tourism and wildlife along coasts in several states such as Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

Captain Dylan Hubbard, with Hubbard’s Marina, said he remembers it like it was yesterday.

He said dozens of cancellations followed.

“We did have a short impact on our business. We had a lot of people that were coming from out of state, out of the country that simply cancelled their trips in fear there would be oil on the beaches,” he said.

Jason Delacruz, of Don’s Docks, was a fisherman at the time.

“Right after the spill happened. It was really kind of a frozen moment. Nobody knew what to do,” said Delacruz. “Soon, after the spill was kind of going on, they kept closing down the areas we were fishing.”

Seven years later, both claim businesses at John’s Pass never really plummeted, but tourist remain skeptical.

“There was a lot of talk of, ‘Oh the beaches are filled with oil, Oh there’s oil on all the fish,’” said Hubbard.

“One of the biggest challenges we had is you could be at dinner here in town a and hear people say, talking in the background, ‘I’m not going to eat anything out of the Gulf,'” Delacruz said.

Pinellas Co. received 7.1 million of BP’s settlement money. It will help fund more than two dozen projects across the area.

Delacruz is still cautious about the future.

“That’s one of the challenges, you just don’t see the long term effects of what happened. We won’t know for 20 years, unfortunately,” he said.

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