Florida has begun a national advertising campaign to protect its fun-in-the-sun image from the sludge and stink of the oil spill — spending almost as much in June (about $9.5 million) as the state usually spends in a year. State officials describe it as a necessity: tourism is Florida’s largest industry, employing one million people and bringing in $60 billion a year. The goal, they say, is to show off what the state still has to offer.
During Dan Aho’s vacation to the Florida Gulf Coast, he slurped seawater, spirited off shells from an old lady and destroyed a sand castle in progress, often snug in the most horrifying of tourist tog — the dreaded red Speedo. He would seem to be giving visitors to the Sunshine State a bad name, except that his goal is actually to bring more of them here. He is the star, after all, of the most ambitious and humorous effort yet to keep Florida’s tourism empire alive despite the oil spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico.