Tourism officials fear the Gulf of Mexico’s lucrative holiday industry could suffer for years – not because the largest oil spill in US history has ruined all the beaches – but from the perception that it has.
In the region known as “America’s Mediterranean” the beaches are empty and there are few people in the water.
In Mississippi, 50 percent of bookings have been cancelled while recreational fishing and boating is down 90 percent.
Oil that does wash ashore is quickly cleaned up and there are still hundreds of kilometres of untouched beaches.
Clean up crews should soon be helped by the biggest oil skimmer in the world.
The vessel – called “The Whale” is as long as three and a half football fields and capable of filtering 80 million litres of oily water a day.