Tar Balls Avoid Mississippi — But So Do Tourists

BILOXI, Miss.—Few tar balls have hit the beaches here. Visitors aren’t swimming away from patches of crude in the surf.

And the pictures of oil-drenched birds published world-wide were taken in neighboring Louisiana, not here.

But the crude spill in the Gulf of Mexico where the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20 is already inflicting economic damage on this community, frustrating the locals who see it as unfair that they have to bear the pain of an environmental disaster despite seeing little of its physical effect.

Many residents appear to be torn between wanting their Republican governor, Haley Barbour, to reflect their anxiety, and not sounding too alarmist, which might drive away more tourism.

“You’ve heard him on the news, saying, ‘Everything’s OK’—until it’s not,” said Robert Sweeting, 50, who works at the local seafood industry museum. “But I understand why. We need the tourists.”

Mr. Barbour, who argues that coverage of the spill has hurt his state more than the spill itself, said he would meet Monday with President Barack Obama when the president visits Gulfport, Miss. on a swing through Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Wall Street Journal