For weeks, Pam Hillman heard news reports about BP’s oil spill and how it was devastating beaches along the Gulf Coast. But when she arrived at Camping on the Gulf in Destin, Fla., for her family’s annual vacation last week, there was no oil to be found.
“The news in Alabama keeps saying the beaches are all covered and I come down here and I don’t see any of it,” Hillman said, adding, “It’s just beautiful here. There is no oil in sight.”
That’s a message Camping on the Gulf and other beachfront campgrounds, RV parks and resorts would like people across the country to hear. “The media talks about the beaches as if everything is covered with oil and that’s not the case,” said Pat O’Neill, general manager of Camping on the Gulf.
Since the oil spill began, O'Neil said, there has been only one day when tar balls showed up on the beach in front of Camping on the Gulf, and those were immediately picked up by county crews.On its Web site, www.CampGulf.com, Camping on the Gulf posts daily video clips that include detailed footage of the beaches and the surf, as well as interviews with RV resort guests who comment on the cleanliness of Gulf Coast beaches.
O’Neill said he had no choice but to post the daily videos because inaccurate and sensational media reports are prompting people to cancel their reservations. “Normally, we’re booked solid all summer long and have to turn people away. But right now, we’re sitting at 50 percent occupancy."
Fortunately, O’Neill said, plenty of Camping on the Gulf guests are willing to share their experiences about camping on beaches that, so far at least, have not been negatively affected by the spill.
Hillman said her family has come to Camping on the Gulf every summer for the past 11 years. “I feel bad for all the companies that have lost business as a result of the oil spill," she said.
Camping on the Gulf has 201 RV sites and 19 park model cabins and cottages, which are available for rent.