'Hype' Over Oil Spill Hurting Tourism: Best Western CEO

Media "hype" surrounding the BP oil spill is exacerbating the situation for Florida's tourist industry, said David Kong, president and chief executive of Best Western, the world’s largest hotel chain.

“The problem is when you turn on the TV and you see this webcam with oil spilling out, people just feel very anxious and uncertain about their vacation plans in Florida,” he said.

“The sad thing is most of these beaches are just absolutely fine.”

Since reports last Friday indicated that the oil spill threatened Florida's coastline, Best Western hotels have seen “tremendous” cancellation, Kong said. One hotel reported 25 cancellations in 20 minutes, he said.

This comes at a time when AAA Travel has expanded its travel advisory to include the Florida panhandle.

In order to assure customers that the coastline remains unscathed, said Kong, the company has linked video webcams of beaches to BestWestern.com.