Afraid that visitors to Pinellas County might associate the Gulf of Mexico with tainted seafood and oily beaches from the Deepwater Horizon spill, tourism officials have crafted a campaign in response.
On Tuesday, the commission approved the St. Petersburg-Clearwater Convention and Visitors Bureau's plans to use a $500,000 award from British Petroleum on a three-day food and wine festival and a TV show featuring celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse called Emeril's Florida. The 30-minute show, which will run on the Cooking Channel, will be part of a series highlighting Florida destinations and Gulf seafood.
The award is a fraction of the $57 million BP has set aside to spend on reviving the reputations of towns along the Gulf, many of which saw tourism decline after the oil spill. Though no oil washed onto Pinellas beaches, four beach cities — St. Pete Beach, Treasure Island, Madeira Beach and Indian Rocks Beach — are seeking more than $12 million in damages for lost revenue.