On May 11, 2010, Gov. Crist issued an executive order establishing the Gulf Oil Spill Economic Recovery Task Force to coordinate the state's efforts to help affected businesses and industries recover from the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Governmental agencies represented on the task force will include the Office of Trade, Tourism, and Economic Development, the Department of Children and Families, the Division of Emergency Management, the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the Agency for Workforce Innovation, the Office of Policy and Budget, and the Department of Revenue. The task force also will include representatives of Visit Florida, the Small Business Administration, the Florida League of Cities, the Florida Association of Counties, a local chamber of commerce, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, the National Association of Charterboat Operators, and the seafood industry.
Gov. Crist and Attorney General McCollum also announced that they were assembling an outside legal team to assist in the state's efforts to determine the financial impact of the oil spill and recover money from responsible parties. The team will be led by two former attorneys general, Republican Jim Smith and Democrat Bob Butterworth.
Gov. Crist said, “I couldn't think of better people to serve in this role, to pick a great legal team to represent Florida, to fight for Florida and look out for our interests, and to make sure Florida is protected, first and foremost.”
The tourism industry in the Panhandle, which does most of its business between Memorial Day and Labor Day, is already sustaining impacts from the oil spill. According to Carol Dover, President of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, occupancy rates have declined by 30 percent in the stretch of coast from Panama City to Pensacola. Ms. Dover predicted that occupancy rates for the Memorial Day weekend, which usually exceed 90 percent, could drop below 20 percent at many Panhandle hotels.
On May 12, 2010, in response to a request from Visit Florida, Gov. Crist wrote BP America, the owner of the Deepwater Horizon well, seeking an immediate $24.75 million for a national and international media campaign. “We need to advertise, get the message out that our beaches are clean, our water is clean, the fish are biting, please come to the Panhandle, it's beautiful,” the governor said. He also requested an additional $10 million for marketing by coastal counties throughout the summer months.