The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is now impacting amusement venues in Florida.
The oil arrived on our beaches last night,” Buddy Wilkes of Shipwreck Island Waterpark (pictured) in Panama City Beach told Park World on June 19.
“It was never a matter of if, but when. The business the beach has enjoyed thus far has been boosted by people moving up their July or August vacations to get here ahead of the oil. That will probably change now that the oil has arrived. If it drifts back west for a few days, as is forecast, some people may try to get in a few days ahead of it coming back.”
“The theory that the waterpark will do well if we have oil on our sand and in our water is ludicrous,” he adds. “We might get most of the people who are here during that type of event, but no one wants to see people in the seafood and tourism industries put out of work, or the wildlife dying senselessly.”
Wilkes even went so far as to suggest he’d rather have been hit by a hurricane: “You can track a storm and within a matter of days it hits land, leaves the damage in its wake, and you rebuild and restore. The agony of waiting on the oil lurking aimlessly off your coast is nearly unbearable. The long-term damage to the Panama City Beach brand is one of my greatest concerns. Some visitors may never return. Give me a good old fashioned hurricane any day.”