On the great yawning porch that once belonged to Confederate president Jefferson Davis, two women sit in rockers listening to the cicadas and looking out over Mississippi Sound as they wait for their tour to begin.
Before Hurricane Katrina, some 200 people came each day to visit the house—the only structure on the oak-shaded Beauvoir estate not destroyed by the storm. And that's just what's needed to break even. Tourism has dropped off 20 percent here, with just a few visitors on some days since the BP well blew out in the Gulf of Mexico.
The story here is mirrored across the Gulf Coast. Beaches have been cleaned of crude, the leak has been plugged and some cities never had oil wash ashore at all. Still, tourists stay away from what they fear are oil-coated coastlines—a perception officials say could take years to overcome and cost the region billions of dollars.
"We had Katrina, then the recession and now we have the oil," said Rick Forte, executive director of the Beauvoir estate. "It's hard to overcome this when no one is coming."