New program offers to get travelers to Gulf Coast

By Nicole Bell - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) –  A money back guarantee is now being offered to get travelers to visit the Gulf Coast despite worries about the massive BP oil spill.

AAA is partnering with some Gulf Coast hotels. Together, they've formed the  AAA 2010 Beach Guarantee.

It's a promise of a full hotel refund to vacationers who travel to the gulf coast during the BP oil crisis.

But travelers beware -- there are restrictions for cashing in on that beach guarantee.

As the oil continues to gush out and wash up on gulf coast beaches, some beach bound Virginians are changing their vacation plans.

They're staying away from the Gulf Coast and traveling elsewhere.

"I really don't see us going there for a while because I think its going to take a while for them to be able to clean it up," said Richmond resident Hazel Duncan.

To help change the mind of vacationers like Duncan, AAA and some Gulf Coast hotels are joining forces and offering potential tourists what's being called a beach guarantee.

"If any beach within 20 miles of your hotel is either closed or deemed unsafe you'll get a full refund," said AAA-Mid-Atlantic spokesperson, Martha Meade.

The full refund is only for the cost of your hotel stay and there are restrictions.

You must book your stay after July 1 and complete your travel before December 21, 2010.

If a beach closes before your arrival you must cancel your hotel stay by 3 p.m. on the anticipated day of arrival.

And if a beach closes during a vacationer's stay they must check out of the hotel early in order to qualify for a full refund.

"It's needed because obviously tourism is hurting down there and there are many travelers who still want to take a vacation to the Gulf Coast -- they're just afraid," said Meade.

The beach guarantee may give some potential gulf coast vacationer's peace of mind and a reason to book a trip to the area.

But Chesterfield resident Kelly Johnston said  the offer doesn't sway her.

"That would be our one big vacation and I want to go somewhere where I know you're not  dealing with the possibility of those tar balls," said Johnston.

To benefit from the AAA Beach Guarantee you must book the vacation through AAA.

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