This week, the First Lady traveled to Panama City Beach, Florida, to meet with business and community leaders in the area. The past few months have been especially challenging for families and businesses in the Gulf Coast region. The BP Oil Spill is the worst environmental disaster our nation has ever seen, and the effects of the spill are evident not only in the oil washing up on some of the shores, but in the businesses and communities that are suffering.
This Administration will not rest until the well is capped, the oil is cleaned up, the natural beauty of this region is restored, and the people of the Gulf Coast who have been affected by this tragic, ongoing spill are made whole. The President and his tireless advisors like Carol Browner, who joined us on this trip, have been doing everything they can to keep Gulf Coast families and the American people up to date on the Administration-wide response to the Gulf Coast spill, but there was one particular point of great concern that Mrs. Obama wanted to drive home to those families.
“I know that there have been lots of questions lately about how we can best help people here on the Gulf Coast who’ve been affected by the oil spill," Mrs. Obama said, "And to be honest, truly, one of the best ways that fellow Americans can help is to come on down here and spend some money.” What many Americans may not realize is that most of the Gulf Coast is still open for business. Despite what you’ve see on TV or read in the newspapers, many the beaches, like Panama City Beach, where the First Lady visited, are still clean and safe. And one of the best ways Americans can help this region and the hard working people who live in the area is by coming down and enjoying the hospitality.
For communities like Panama City Beach, summertime is peak tourist season. But this year, many business owners have seen a sharp decline in tourism to the region, despite the fact that their beaches are clean and oil free. If you’re looking for a family vacation this summer, consider visiting one of the many communities in the Gulf Coast region.
Trooper Sanders is Deputy Director of Policy to the First Lady