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Canceling your Gulf Coast vacation?

By Jen Haley, producer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Wondering if your beach vacation will be washed up in oil globs? There are some ways you can protect your holiday if you're planning a trip to the Gulf Coast.

While oil-slicked waves and tar-ball beaches don't conjure up images of paradise, there's no need to cancel your plans yet. Many beaches are open for business.

"There's more fear than reality," says Anne Banas of SmarterTravel.com.

And businesses that rely on tourism know that. "This is peak summer season, and prices are getting slashed," she says.

Along with incentives, here are some guarantees that tourism boards and hotels are offering.

St. Pete Clearwater, Fla. -- Local hotels are offering a "book with confidence" guarantee. If you find beaches affected by the oil spill, your first night is free?taxes and resort fees included. Take a look at the beach.

Panama City Beach, Fla. -- If beaches require cleaning from the oil spill, or if they're closed, a number of resorts and hotels are offering a full refund or vouchers for future stays.

Some rental homes are even offering oil spill guarantees.

Orbitz, an online travel site, will refund your hotel costs if a beach is closed, or is declared dangerous, within 20 miles of the property.

If you have already booked your trip, call ahead to the hotel and make sure you are know about the policies. Make sure there is a pool available if you're worried you won't be able to use the beaches.

Finally, check local newspapers or local tourism boards for updates.

Keep in mind if you do want to change your plans because of oil spill concerns, you may have to pay an airline change fee if you reschedule your flight.

Talkback: Have you given to the Gulf oil spill clean-up effort? To top of page

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