Great VISIT FLORIDA Beach Walk and Photo Fest Frequently Asked Questions What is the Great VISIT FLORIDA Beach Walk and Photo Fest? The Great VISIT FLORIDA Beach Walk and Photo Fest is a one-day mile-by-mile beach walk that covers all 825 miles of Florida’s beaches. Organizations and individual volunteers around the state will celebrate our sandy shores and show the world – with photos from each mile – that Florida’s beaches are as wonderful as ever. How can I participate in the Beach Walk and Photo Fest? All Florida residents and visitors are encouraged to be a part of the Beach Walk, walking their favorite mile of Florida beach and taking photos that will become part of the overall event to capture real-time images of the current conditions on all 825 miles of Florida’s beaches. To register and receive a free official Beach Walk t-shirt, please go to www.visitflorida.com/beachwalk. Why should I get involved? Tourism is the number one industry in the state of Florida, bringing in 80 million visitors each year who spend in excess of $60 billion, accounting for 22 percent of the state’s sales tax revenue and employing nearly one million Floridians. Since tourism helps us all, it benefits us to be part of a fun event aimed at clearing up the misperceptions about there being oil on our beaches so visitors know they can safely plan their next Florida vacation. What about the fishermen and others who lost their jobs and businesses? They are precisely why this event is being held. The sooner Florida can correct the misperceptions many potential visitors still have about the condition of Florida’s beaches, the sooner the tourism and seafood industries can get back to business as usual. Is the oil spill threat to Florida really over? While scientists continue to study the long-term impacts of the oil spill, the Department of Environmental Protection – the state’s lead agency on the oil spill response efforts – as well as the Department of Health and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have all determined that Florida’s waterways, beaches and seafood are safe for residents and visitors to enjoy. Could I still see tar balls or an oil plume? Despite all beach advisory notices having been rescinded back in August, the Department of Health has said that because wave action and currents may periodically bring tar balls ashore or expose small areas of buried oil within the sand, beach goers may encounter weathered oil products and tar balls, and should avoid touching the product. If people accidentally come into contact with buried oil product or tar balls, they should wash the residue from their skin as soon as possible. Brief skin contact is not a medical emergency, but can result in skin irritation if not removed. What is VISIT FLORIDA? As the official tourism marketing corporation for the State of Florida, VISIT FLORIDA creates advertising campaigns promoting travel to Florida, operates the official Florida Welcome Centers and develops guide books, maps and website content that assist visitors with planning their Florida vacations. What does VISIT FLORIDA do for me? VISIT FLORIDA’s ability to successfully market the Florida tourism product and bring in more visitors helps the state of Florida and all our residents by building and growing businesses, creating jobs and providing family-sustaining wages. These efforts to attract more visitors also generate increased tourist spending that provides funding to help build roads, support schools and pay for vital programs. Has VISIT FLORIDA received any money from BP? VISIT FLORIDA did receive a $12 million grant from BP through the State of Florida for a 6-week national advertising campaign that ran from mid-June to late July to boost summer travel in the wake of the oil spill. With no plan for additional money to fund further campaigns coming from BP, an event like the Beach Walk that draws national attention to the current condition of Florida’s beaches is the best way VISIT FLORIDA has to get the word out on a grand scale. What is Share a Little Sunshine? Share a Little Sunshine is an advocacy program launched last year by VISIT FLORIDA. It is designed to activate Sunshine State fans to share what they love about Florida and, in so doing, help the state’s tourism industry. State residents and fans are encouraged to share invitations to visit Florida with out of state friends and family – forwarding the idea of a Sunshine State vacation along with special offers. Share a Little Sunshine also encourages Florida fans to share photos – and this summer that photo sharing helped communicate that the state’s beaches were indeed ‘Open for Business.’ What does Share a Little Sunshine have to do with the Beach Walk? The idea for the Beach Walk was a direct extension of the Share a Little Sunshine program. Using social media channels to invite Floridians to walk their favorite mile of beach, take photos and upload them to a website that will result in a real-time pictorial story of the current condition of every one of the state’s 825 miles of beaches is pure ‘Share a Little Sunshine’ thinking. What is Florida Live? Florida Live is a section of the www.VISITFLORIDA.com website where real-time photos, videos, webcams, fishing reports, blogs and Twitter feeds are posted by Floridians as a way for visitors to see for themselves what’s really going on in the Sunshine State. This transparent, honest, open information provided by residents allows visitors to make the most informed travel planning decisions possible based on constantly updated, real-time resources. The idea for the Photo Fest aspect of the Beach Walk was an off-shoot of the Florida Live concept.
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