Panama City: US President Barack Obama and his family ended on Sunday a weekend trip to Florida aimed at showing support for tourism in a region still struggling due to the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
The First Family spent two days at Panama City Beach, with Obama and Sasha taking a dip in the Gulf of Mexico waters to reassure travellers that tourist havens remain pristine despite the massive spill.
On an overcast Sunday morning, Obama, his wife, Michelle, and Sasha -- elder daughter Malia is away at summer camp -- took a ride in a converted 50-foot (15-meter) Navy Launch called the "Bay Point Lady" around St Andrews Bay, fronting Panama City.
At one point, the Obamas leaned against a metal railing at the ship`s bow and saw a porpoise breaking the water a few yards from the boat.
After the boat ride, the Obamas headed for Air Force 1 for their flight back home, stopping at an ice cream stand along the way to indulge in large cups of ice cream -- the President`s was mint chocolate chip.
Obama on Saturday told local officials and business leaders that "oil is no longer flowing into the Gulf... But I`m here to tell you that our job is not finished, and we are not going anywhere until it is."
During the height of the spill, which began after a BP-leased rig explosion on April 20 and ended with a cap on the well in mid-July, Obama urged his fellow Americans to continue taking vacations in the region, famous for its sugar-white beaches, and heavily dependent on tourism.
The Obama`s trip to Florida comes after US officials announced that energy giant BP`s runaway well has been sealed, and that they are moving ahead with plans to make sure it`s truly "killed" by pumping cement in through a relief well under the Gulf of Mexico.
The First Family is scheduled to vacation this month in Martha`s Vineyard, a posh resort island off Massachusetts in the US northeast.