Tourism, hospitality important to state economy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 2, 2006

Whether they came to play golf, visit a historic site, or enjoy our beautiful Gulf Coast beaches, tourists spent more than $1 billion in Alabama in the fiscal year that ended in September, reflecting a 14 percent growth over the previous year.

Travelers spent an estimated $8.9 billion in fiscal year 2006, which just ended, up from $6.7 billion four years ago. Almost 200,000 direct and indirect jobs in Alabama were a result of traveler spending.

Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Bureau of Tourism & Travel, said vacationers returned to Alabama’s Gulf Coast beaches in numbers approaching pre-Hurricane Ivan levels during the summer. Approximately 28 percent of all travel expenditures in Alabama occur in the Gulf Shores-Orange Beach area, he said.

Over the past four years, travelers have increased their spending here by 33 percent.

The increase in tourism has added 49,000 workers to the payrolls in the state’s hospitality industry during the past four years.

It’s important that we recognize the importance of tourism to the state’s economy. But we also should take pride in the fact that we live in a beautiful state, with abundant natural resources and places others want to visit.

We hope you share our pride in Alabama.