The Chamber of Commerce “See You in the Sand” breakfast was held at the Marriott on September 28. There were 220 business people, community leaders, and interested residents in attendance.
Chamber president, Vip Grover, spoke on the adverse effect that misconceptions about the BP oil spill has had on the economy of our area. The problem took months to create and now it’s up to us to implement the tools needed to remedy the situation. He mentioned a recent study, by the Oxford Economic Foundation of Oxford, England. The study predicts that the cost to the tourism business alone could exceed $22 Billion in the next three years. Total spill-related damages and lost economic activity could amount to tens of billions of dollars. Many people’s livelihoods and jobs have been affected.
Grover introduced Mimi Chan, publisher of the News Press Group, who spoke of her commitment and passion to rebuilding a positive image of our area. Her message was to connect, reflect, challenge, and lead. She stated that our objective is to facilitate a dialog about a unified marketing message that community leaders can share with their customers, shareholders, visitors, and also with Northern and European markets.
It was determined that, in order to facilitate this, we needed to come up with an idea to get the word out that our beaches are still clean and pristine. Hence, the “21st Century grass roots campaign” of using the “See You in the Sand” website was formed. This campaign is available for all to use. The best way to get the message out to the rest of the world is by implementing the tools available through e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. The website can be copied and pasted into all our correspondence and can be shared with family, friends, co-workers, distant relatives, etc. The Chamber of Commerce website also has a link to the URL which can be included in all our correspondence. Other ways of getting the word out are through hotel webcams, visitors, schools, and even through a You Tube campaign.
The potential impact will be to diminish misconceptions and help rebuild a positive image of our area and bring visitors back. We all need to let the world know we still have inviting Gulf waters, clean pristine beaches, and NO oil.