The following is an Appeal Panel Decision issued pursuant to Section 6 of the BP Deepwater Horizon Economic & Property Damages Settlement Agreement and the Rules Governing the BP Appeals Process. Links may have been added to assist the reader. The original decision may be found here, as well as a glossary of BP Settlement terms.
This is an appeal relating to one of Claimant’s facilities, located in Venice, Florida. Claimant appeals the Settlement Program’s denial of a “Tourism” designation for this location and alleges that: (1) The Settlement Program failed to take into account relevant information demonstrating that provides services that accommodate and cater to the needs of people who are traveling from their home community to Venice, Florida for both short term and long term stays; (2) The Settlement Program failed to take into account relevant information demonstrating that proximity to a major interstate highway contributes to the number of out-of-state travelers who rely
on the Store’s services; (3) The Settlement Program failed to take into account relevant information demonstrating that provides services that attract people to travel to Venice, Florida, from their home community, where comparable services are not readily available, and (4) The Settlement Program failed to take into account relevant information establishing that most applicable NAICS code is code 452990 for “All Other General Merchandise Stores,” which is already recognized as qualifying for the Tourism designation under Claims Administrator’s Policy 289.
This panelist, however, concurs with BP’s rebuttal that Claimant’s location near a highway does not entitle it to a tourism designation as such a location does not show that Claimant’s office supplies business attracts or accommodates tourists. Many businesses located near highways or in tourist areas do not cater to tourists.
Furthermore, a decision cited by Claimant is inapplicable here as the Appeal Panel found that that claimant had a NAICS Code listed on Exhibit 2 as a Tourism business. Here, Claimant’s NAICS Code is 453210 — Office Supplies and Stationary Stores. NAICS Code 453210 is not listed as tourism NAICS Code in Exhibit 2.
Claimant argues its NAICS Code should be 452990 – Other General Merchandise Stores, but Claimant’s business is an office supplies store, not a general merchandise store. Claimant does have a line of goods that it predominately sells — office supplies, and it sells items used by businesses, not tourists, such as those described in Claimant’s briefing — computers, office furniture, stationary, shipping, and packaging materials. The fact that Claimant may also carry snacks or coffee makers for offices does not make Claimant a general merchandise store.
Claimant used the NAICS Code 453210 – Office Supplies and Stationary Stores on its tax returns and described its business as “Retail Sales” with its product being “office supplies.” Claimant also listed its NAICS Code as 453210 in its BEL Claim Form. Accordingly, the appropriate NAICS Code for Claimant is 453210 – Office Supplies and Stationary Stores, which is not listed in Exhibit 2 as a tourism business.
Finally, Claimant asserts it is entitled to a Tourism designation because business travelers, “road warriors,” and people from rural locations may purchase its goods and services. However, that a vacationer may occasionally purchase a telephone charger at its store does not mean that Claimant attracts, accommodates, or caters to tourists. Nor does providing mailing or printing services for business travelers.
As several prior Appeal Panel decisions have stated, incidental involvement in the tourism trade is insufficient to warrant a tourism designation. For example, the Appeal Panel rejected a similar argument by a claimant asserting that it should be entitled to a tourism designation “as long as the store provides some demonstrable level of services that cater to the needs or wants of persons outside their home community,” because such evidence only reflected an incidental connection to tourism. In that claim, as here, Claimant primarily caters to locals and is not entitled to a Tourism designation.
Moreover, Claimant has provided no sales data or other evidence to show that a significant portion of its business is from business travelers, “road warriors,” or other non-local customers. Claimant’s appeal is denied.
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