30 August 2010


CONTACT: For your local media contact visit www.AAA.com/Media

Jessica Brady, manager, AAA Public Relations, (813) 288-7294 office, (813) 532-5327 cell


62% of Florida Respondents Oppose Oil Drilling in Florida Coastal Waters

TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 30, 2010)—Despite recent reports that state there is little to no oil left on the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, the majority of Floridians (73%) are very concerned about the long-term ecological effects the Deepwater Horizon oil spill will have on Florida’s beaches. The biggest concerns among Floridians are the long-term effects the oil spill will have on sea life, shoreline birds, and other marsh wildlife (73% very concerned). The effects of toxic waste and chemicals are also a concern among residents with 67 percent of respondents "very concerned" about the use of chemical dispersants sprayed over the Gulf and 65 percent are "very concerned" about the proper disposal of oil and oil-soaked material captured during the clean-up efforts, shows a recent AAA Consumer Pulse™ survey fielded between August 19-24 among Florida residents.

"Although the oil well is capped, there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure the aftermath of the oil spill does not further effect the ecosystem in the Gulf or traveler sentiment towards visiting Gulf coast beaches," said Brent Hubele, Vice President, AAA Travel. "Although half of Florida respondents plan to visit a Florida beach this Labor Day weekend, only six percent plan to visit a Panhandle beach with most travelers going to Central West Florida beaches (23%) such as Clearwater and St. Petersburg or Southeast Florida beaches in the Miami-Ft. Lauderdale area (26%)."

Concern about how the oil spill will affect wildlife in the long term has caused one in five Floridians (19%) to change their consumption of seafood caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Of those changing consumption, nearly two-thirds (64%) say they now take more time to determine the origin of the seafood, about half (46%) said they will no longer eat seafood from the Gulf, while one-third (34%) will avoid certain types of seafood such as grouper and oysters. However, 70 percent of Floridians said the oil spill will have no impact on their seafood consumption.

"As devastating as the oil spill is, the Panhandle beaches are bouncing back in a very positive way," said Pam Spillar, AAA Travel Manager in the Florida Panhandle. "I’ve lived in Pensacola for 22 years and the seafood tastes as good as ever. Our local fishermen are back on the waters and residents back on the beaches. Now, it’s just a matter of getting the rest of the country to see that we are still a viable and beautiful area of Florida to visit."

Along with the concern about the long-term effects the oil spill will have on Gulf coast beaches, there is mixed sentiment about BP’s promise to “make things right,” with 34 percent in agreement and 41 percent in disagreement. Almost half (46%) of Florida residents have “some” confidence BP will be successful in their clean-up efforts, with 32 percent having little or no confidence. Nearly four in 10 respondents (38%) agree BP will do an adequate job cleaning the beaches, while 35 percent disagree.  

Moreover, the majority of Floridians (62%) oppose oil drilling in Florida’s coastal waters.  As a result of the oil spill, 26 percent changed their mind regarding offshore drilling in Florida, resulting in 23 percent of all Floridians now opposing offshore drilling, while three percent are now in favor of drilling. More than half (57%) still favor an amendment to the Florida Constitution to ban drilling off the coast of Florida.

 Other Key Information:

  • Concern about future recreational fishing in the Gulf of Mexico: 13 percent not concerned, 40 percent somewhat concerned, 47 percent very concerned
  • Concern about long-term water quality for swimming in the Gulf of Mexico: 9 percent not concerned, 29 percent somewhat concerned, 63 percent very concerned
  • Concern about future attractiveness of beach sand on Gulf of Mexico beaches: 11 percent not concerned, 29 percent somewhat concerned, 60 percent very concerned
  • Impact of oil spill: One in six Floridians (16%) say they or someone they personally know has been directly impacted as a result of the oil spill, significantly higher among Panhandle residents (62%).
  • Quit going to BP gas station as a result of oil spill: 26 percent "yes", 49 percent "no", 25 percent "N/A-never visited a BP gas station before the oil spill
  • Willingness to volunteer for clean-up efforts in a future disaster such as another oil spill or hurricane: 63 percent willing, 28 percent unsure, 10 percent unwilling 

The AAA Consumer Pulse™ survey was conducted online among 500 Florida residents from August 11-24. The survey has a maximum margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points. The subset of 121 Florida Panhandle residents (Pensacola, Panama City, Tallahassee) has a maximum margin of error of plus/minus 8.9 percentage points.

AAA Auto Club South is the third largest affiliate of AAA, with 78 branch offices serving more than 4.1 million members in Florida, Georgia, Middle/West Tennessee, and Puerto Rico. Since its founding in 1938, AAA Auto Club South has worked to protect and advance freedom of mobility and improve travel safety.