Tourism officials from Mississippi to Florida have fought the perception that oil has come ashore, and hotels have offered lower rates and other incentives to vacationers.
Though some tar balls have been found on Mississippi and Alabama barrier islands, oil from the spill has not significantly fouled the shores.
On Biloxi Beach, Paul Dawa and a friend drove from Tennessee to see for themselves whether the oil had hit the white sands.
The men were chased off the beach by a summer storm, not oil.
Linda Hornsby of the Mississippi Hotel and Lodging Association, says the perception threatens to cripple the tourist economy.