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Alabama summer tourism doesn’t just mean the beaches

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Memorial Day marks the start of the summer tourism season, but not just along the Alabama Gulf coast. But, the State’s visitor industry is bigger than that. The twenty-three counties that make up Alabama’s Black Belt generated almost four billion dollars in tourism revenue last year. That’s according to a report commissioned by the group called the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association. Governor Kay Ivey noted that tourism revenue in this region of the State almost doubled between the year 2020 and 2023. A second report from the Montgomery based firm Economic Research Services says Black Belt area tourism generated over forty-five thousand jobs in 2023. Hunting and fishing reportedly account for almost two billion dollars in visitor revenue.

The Alabama Department of Tourism says close to thirty million people visited the State overall in 2023. Visitor spending reportedly increased by a billion dollars for four of the last five years. Mobile and Baldwin Counties along the Gulf coast were among the top five most popular destinations. The Tennessee Valley was represented as well with Madison County also making that list. Gulf coast tourism officials say a new ban on alcohol during Spring Break this year didn’t dampen business. Local leaders hope pent up demand will keep visitors coming during the crucial summer season.

Alabama tourist attractions have Hawaii and other spots to compete with, even among State residents. The Associated Press reports residents of Alabama, New Jersey, California, Texas, and Washington report Hawaii as their top destination. While Hawaii has 137 islands of varying sizes, in 2024, travelers typically stick to the islands of Kaua’i, O’ahu, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Maui, and the big island of Hawaii. Maui and O’ahu are notably popular among vacationers.

 

Andrea Tinker is a student intern at Alabama Public Radio. She is majoring in News Media with a minor in African American Studies at The University of Alabama. In her free time, Andrea loves to listen to all types of music, spending time with family, and reading about anything pop culture related.

Caleb Aguayo is a master’s student intern at Alabama Public Radio. He is studying Community Journalism, a news communications degree with a focus on real people in local areas. In his free time, Caleb enjoys spending time with family, gardening, and hobby carpentry.
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