How ‘travel’ can fill news gaps

A day at the Pensacola beach during the height of the oil spill

Tourism in the Gulf Coast is soaring, again, two years after the BP oil spill sent four million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. This MSNBC article quotes a New Orleans CVB rep who says it takes emergency advertising dollars to battle misperception that the area is fully coated in oil. True I guess, but sad too.

During the height of the spill, I begged Lonely Planet to send me to report from the beach at Pensacola, Florida. And they did. Actually I appeared on MSNBC from the beach, noting how the beaches were still safe to swim in. The interviewer doubted my take, ‘Yeah, but would you swim in it?’ Actually, I said, I just had. As far as I know Lonely Planet was the only travel reps reporting on the actual scene of one of the country’s biggest tourist destinations. I’m pretty proud of that.

We see this sort of thing all time time — one-sided coverage where TV cameras that’s entirely different from the picture that travelers bring back. And I think that’s travel’s great under-utilized asset — filling gaps in news stories. Whether or not there are marketing budgets to push stories.

About Robert Reid

Robert Reid is a travel writer (Lonely Planet, New York Times, ESPN), travel expert (Today Show, CNN's Headline News), travel videographer (76-Second Travel Show) and travel artist (don't ask).
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