By Melanie Posey
GULF SHORES, AL (WBRC) - On Friday afternoon, Alabama Governor Bob Riley stopped in Gulf Shores. He was teamed up with the National Guard to help residents in the area file claims with BP, but he also used the opportunity to encourage tourists to return to the state's beaches.
"Ladies and gentlemen...get the word out. We're still open," Riley told a crowd gathered at Lulu's Restaurant. "We're still hospitable, still the most beautiful beach in the world. And the seafood here is second to none."
His sentiment was echoed back in Montgomery by Lee Sentell, the director of the state's tourism department. "The reality is there are not nearly as many people at the beach that need to be there."
Sentell says many folks have been misled about the reality of the situation along Alabama's coast line. It is a reality he saw just this week while shooting commercials. "I didn't see any oil. I'm sure there's oil that pops up in spots but as soon as it rolls up, there's someone there in a haz mat suit who bags it and they're gone."
Like Riley, Sentell says tourists must return. "It is a great destination. And people in Alabama think of this as their beach. So it's up to Alabama to help keep their beach in business."
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