Thursday AM June 17th, 2010

With images of the oil spill fresh in mind, vacationers have been canceling plans to visit beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. Some hotels and resorts in Florida are offering full refunds on reservations if a beach is closed by the oil spill. Ed Mayberry reports.


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President Obama told reporters during a recent visit in Florida that beaches are still open, and encouraged Americans to follow through with their beach holiday plans.  Orbitz customers with plans for a beach vacation along the Florida Gulf Coast now have an Open Beach Guarantee.  Jeanenne Tornatore with Orbitz says they’ve developed partnerships with participating hotels to give travelers some peace of mind about traveling to the Gulf this summer.

“Basically how this works is if any government agency declares that a local beach is closed or dangerous, if your hotel is within 20 miles of that area and your beach gets closed, we will reach out to you, as a customer or Orbitz, and offer you a refund for your full hotel stay.  Right now, we have 120 participating hotels in that guarantee.”

Tornatore says the Orbitz Web site has also launched a new resource center with up-to-date information about the spill.

“And there’s so much information out there and so many different resources right now.  We really wanted to collate that and, you know, make a solid one-stop resource for travelers.  So we do have information from NOAA, local volunteer opportunities posted there, and then we have the links directly to the local government and tourism Web sites that has the specific information on the oil spill effects on their area.” 

Tornatore says there are plans to expand that guarantee to other Gulf Coast states.  A list of hotels is on the Orbitz Web site. 

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