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World Games aid in economic growth for Jefferson County


The Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau reports sustained economic improvement so far this year.

Lodging taxes were up nearly 20% in May. Lodging taxes surpassed the amount for May 2019, which was a record year for tourism in Central Alabama.

This comes as thousands of international and national visitors book hotel rooms throughout Birmingham for The World Games. The international sports event is July 7-17.

More than 330,000 tickets have been sold. Local sponsors and visitors are behind most ticket sales. Tickets are still available for the event’s opening and closing ceremonies.

CEO John Oros said he anticipates hotels will feel a surge in occupancy.

“It puts us on the world stage, there’s no doubt about that,” Oros said. “Our hotels, especially our hotels downtown, are pretty much sold out. There are still hotel rooms available throughout the county. For the people that traditionally have come through and want to stay downtown, they’re going to get pushed out to other parts of the area.”

The sports event will invite members from 39 international federations.

Oros said he hopes these federations will play in the Magic City long after the World Games.

“Each one of those international federations has their own national and international competitions that they can book anywhere they want to in the world,” Oros said. “They’re going to be here. A lot of the international federations, we’re hoping, are going to like our destination so much that they’re going to bring their championships here to our city for their own events.”

Other aspects of Jefferson County’s economy remain below their 2019 equivalent.

Individual business travel and corporate meetings have only reached 70% of their 2019 levels. Both are expected to recover this time next year.

The bureau also expects large meetings, conventions and trade shows to make a gradual return to Jefferson County.

International travel should make a comeback in Birmingham thanks to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC repealed the requirement of a negative coronavirus test for entrance into the country earlier this month. The bureau reports it may reach its 2019 levels next year.

Joshua LeBerte is a news intern for Alabama Public Radio.
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