Galveston sees tourism boom

June 11, 2010 10:29:47 AM PDT
You've seen pictures of oil washing ashore on beaches from Louisiana to Florida. It's bad news for those economies that depend heavily on tourism. But it's a different story for Galveston Island, which has seen a boom in tourism this summer and not a drop of oil from the leak. For Ricky Blachwell, the catch of the day is about as good as it gets.

He said, "We have three bull reds, we have seven sharks and one bonnet shark, or small hammerhead shark."

It's a catch Blachwell's grateful was made off the Galveston coastline in oil free waters, an important criteria for this boatload of tourists.

Jordan Mathews, an 11-year-old fisherman, said, "I was kind of concerned about that. We need to keep our waters clean so we don't ruin the population of fish."

Aqua Safari Charters is one of a multitude of charter boats docked off Pier 19 and Harborside noticing a profitable consequence from the massive BP oil spill.

"We actually had a charter Sunday that was supposed to go out of Gulf Shores but they didn't because of the oil, so they came here," said Captain Paul Stanton with Aqua Safari Charters. "So we're getting some of that kind of business here. So are the beaches and the whole island."

Despite the gloomy rainy weather Tuesday, bookings for Galveston's hotels and vacation rentals have been in the 90 percent range since Memorial Day. Tourists like Gary Cantwell from Oklahoma are choosing the island city as their vacation destination for its oil free waters and beaches.

He said, "I knew it wasn't getting into this area so I felt safe bringing my family down here."