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Regional Contrasts in Consumers' Attitudes and Behavior Following the BP Oil Spill

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Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

Published online on


In this paper, we examine how consumers’ reactions to the British Petrolium (BP) oil spill and their attitudes about the Gulf of Mexico as a tourism destination differ as a function of the respondents’ geographic location of residence and their past travel behavior. A survey conducted with 540 travelers and tourists, which began three weeks following the successful capping of the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, reveals that consumers’ reactions to the oil spill varied by geographic location and past travel behavior. In particular, consumers from the southeast region, when compared with the three other geographic regions we sampled, had more negative views regarding the oil spill on a number of dependent measures. We also found that individuals who traveled to Florida in the two years prior to the oil spill reported higher perceptions of environmental risk than those individuals who had not traveled to Florida during that same time frame.