Alabama’s tourism industry booming, official says
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Tourists are packing up to visit Alabama’s Gulf Coast and attractions. The Alabama Tourism Department has seen much growth.
“Alabama is a place that people enjoy visiting,” said the the tourism department’s director, Lee Sentell.
The tourism expert explained people are coming back year after year as the industry skyrockets.
“Tourism has grown by a billion dollars a year, with a million more people coming than the year before, for five out of the last six years,” Sentell added.
He believes Alabama is a friendly state with moderately priced destinations.
When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the tourism industry took a major hit. Nationwide tourism went down 45% in 2020. Sentell notes Alabama only went down 20%.
“That’s because people love to come to Alabama’s beaches. They love our state parks. They love other activities,” he said.
Big crowds are expected this Memorial Day weekend along Alabama’s Gulf Coast.
“The room accommodations, bookings are up,” said Ken Grimes, city administrator for Orange Beach. “People are headed, ready to get outside once again. We’re geared up for summer.”
Travelers will see higher prices at the pump, but the state does not believe the cost of gasoline will deter too many folks.
“People who are from the furthest distances, maybe we’re not going to have as many people from Michigan and Indiana as we’ve had in the past, but we’re still going to do very well,” Sentell said.
He said part of the state’s success comes from $10 million the governor provided the Alabama Tourism Department for tourism and economic recovery.
That money was put toward advertisements on each county.
That is why Alabama ranked number five on Google’s most searched states, Sentell said.
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