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Posted Fri May 21 2010: from
Birmingham tourism business takes hit from Gulf oil spill
A decline in tourism on the Gulf Coast because of the catastrophic oil spill has rippled all the way to Birmingham, where canceled vacations are taking a bite out of revenue for everyone from condo owners to dive shops. At Southern Skin Divers' Supply, which bills itself as the nation's oldest scuba school, business is off 75 percent even though the diving off the Alabama coast is still good. "The perception is what's affected us the most," said Forrest Phillips, company president.... Others just don't want to schedule a trip in advance because of the uncertainty surrounding the spill, caused by the April 20 explosion and sinking of an oil rig about 50 miles off the Louisiana coast. "What I'm telling people is if you want to dive, go dive now. Everything is great now," Phillips said. "But we don't know what it will be like in a few weeks."... But it could prove to be too little, too late for some businesses. At the Southern Skin Divers shop, Phillips said he's investigating alternatives such as dive trips to the East Coast. Without some improvement, he said, the Gulf spill ultimately will mean the shop will have to close its doors. "We're gonna keep 'em open for a while," he said. "But I don't know of any small business that could deal with this."
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