Economist Bob Allsbrook: It will take a LONG time for tourists to return to the Gulf Coast


We know that environmental and health impacts from the BP spill will haunt us for years, but it’s worth remembering that the economic effects will also linger. Making that point this week in a Press-Register was Bob Allsbrook, the chief economist for Regions Bank, in a Press-Register report.

In an interview, the Allsbrook told the Register that: “… he was concerned it would take a long time for tourists to return to the Gulf Coast, because media coverage of the oil spill has ‘entrenched’ fear in their minds. ‘It’s going to take years to get the American public to believe that it’s OK to go there to go fishing and sit on the beach,’ he said. ‘There is a tremendous fear nationally that the water isn’t safe.'”

One reason the long-term economic impact is important is that future damages help explain some current actions and behaviors. Increased financial stress from unpaid or underpaid business claims will eventually create pressure on spill victims to sign away future legal rights in order to secure a final settlement. Just like with health effects, the system is asking us to make decisions today about conditions that could be years or even decades away.

That’s a nice situation for BP as it tries to limit its liability – but it sure makes for difficult decisions for many Gulf residents.

Check out the Press-Register story here:

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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