USM study reveals high cost of Coastal Crisis in South MS - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

USM study reveals high cost of Coastal Crisis in South MS

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) -

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - A new study from The University of Southern Mississippi has revealed how much the oil spill has cost the coast in revenue. USM's International Development Doctoral program estimated more than $119 million will be lost from May to August. The study found overall revenue in South Mississippi is down five percent from this time last year.

The research team began interviewing local businesses involved with tourism in early May to understand the oil spill's economic impact on tourism. More than 40 interviews with hotels, restaurants, charter and head boats, casinos and other seafood industry businesses show that seafood restaurants and recreational fishing are hardest hit.

The study shows that seafood restaurants have felt the strain to keep staff and pay bills as seafood prices are up an average of 30% even as revenue has dropped an average of 30%.

The recreational fishing has also dropped over 90%, according to the research. Because of the strong decline in recreational fishing and shifts in commercial fishing to adjust to closed state and federal waters, suppliers to this industry are also down. Boat and boat trailer sales have also dropped from April to May.

Although BP has made statements about hiring local boat owners to assist in clean up and making damage payments to those directly impacted by the oil spill, the program found that the payment provided does not make up for the revenue shortfall. According to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, more than 4,000 claims have been filed with BP. However, the amount paid out by the company totals $5.5 Million. This equals about $1400 per claim.

The program also found that although 1,100 vessels have signed charter agreements to aid in oil clean up, only a small fraction are being utilized. It appears that casinos and gaming have not felt an impact from the spill, but they are still remaining cautious.

The program will release two additional reports on the economic impact of the oil spill with a focus on tax collections and employment on June 21, 2010, and June 28, 2010 respectively.

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