No matter where you are on earth, it’s impossible to not be aware of the catastrophic oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico. As it continues spewing crude oil into the waters from a depth of 5,000 feet, the international news media keeps the disaster “in your face”.  Transparency at it’s best?

How will this affect the Key West economy? It is true that a large part of our income is generated by tourism.  Hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, museums, fishing and water sports make up a large part of our economy, as well as employ a great number of our residents.

It is human nature to shy away from vacation destinations that have become undesirable. The oil spill has made Key West undesirable to some potential tourists.  The question is, how will this impact us.  We need to be realistic.

We will lose some tourists because of the “threat” of oil washing up on our beaches, as well as polluting our favorite fishing and diving spots. It is possible that some wildlife will be affected. But we have been through bad times before.

Hurricanes, or the threat or hurricanes, have hurt tourism in the past. The economic recession has reduced tourism during 2008 and 2009.  But these events passed and people came back.  There are still many hotels consistently running over 90% occupancy.  Cruise ships still dock along our harbor.

Any downturn in tourism hurts our economy, but the strong are prepared and will weather the difficulties.  This oil spill disaster will also pass.  Key West is still a great get-away destination, and frankly, not many people come here for the beaches anyway (except during spring break). There are so many things to do in Key West, including just chilling out.

There are environmental fanatics and retirees replanted from up north who would be happy if no tourists ever came to Key West.  They are, for the most part, not reliant on earning income from tourists and prefer to keep the place quiet and to themselves. But without tourists, Key West will become a ghost town (or a retirement village).

Don’t listen to all the doom & gloom.  Come to Key West and have a great time. The working people (real people) of Key West want and need you here.