Nightly News   |  July 03, 2010

Gulf businesses suffer as many tourists stay home

With beaches and streets noticeably quieter than years past, the tourist-driven business of the oil-stained Gulf Coast are bracing for immediate shortfalls. NBC’s Ron Mott reports.

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>>> we've been watching the oil on florida's gulf coast beach line. on this holiday weekend the pain of dwindling crowds and lost tourists dollars is acute. as a rite of summer, the fourth of july trek to the beach is one a lot of people apparently are skipping this year. ron mott is in pensacola beach tonight with more.

>> reporter: good evening. typically this time of year this beach would have a sea of people on it. because of all the uncertainty about the oil at sea, a lot of folks chose to stay away. at the new margaritaville hotel, many got started. here is a lot less festive. compared to last year, the beach scene this holiday is noticeably quieter, normally clogged streets are showing lots of open pavement.

>> we opened here specifically counting on tourists being here. it definitely made us revamp the thinking here. how do we react for this a long term? this isn't just a one-summer problem.

>> reporter: chris seaman owns a chain of bars and says june revenues were down about $70,000 from projections at his newest location in the bar and he told his staff to brace for lay-offs. such shortfalls spread across the gulf coast as hotels, vacation condos and restaurants report cash flow declines upwards of 50%, 60%, 80%.

>> it's a real shame. luke at what we have. there is nothing like it anywhere else in the world and we can't use it because of the catastrophe we had. it's tough not only emotionally, but financially on the community.

>> reporter: anger directed not just at bp but the federal government . upset more wasn't done to catch the oil at sea before it washed ashore.

>> had they done that, we wouldn't be discussing toxicity of oil on the sand. royal all 8-year-old jack wanted to do was frolic in the stand on alabama. sandy pools of oily water stopped him if his tracks.

>> i was hoping to build a sand castle . thanks to all this oil, it's not going to happen until it's cleaned up. it's heartbreaking.

>> reporter: here is another heartbreaker. two towns on the alabama coast canceled fireworks displays because in the words of one mayor, people are just not in the mood.

>> ron mott, thank you.