Alabama tourism workshop held in Troy

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, October 17, 2013

The City of Troy Tourism Department hosted an Alabama Tourism Department Workshop at Camp Butter and Egg this week.

Tourism industry employees and volunteers from across the Wiregrass attended the workshop in an effort to discover all that Alabama has to offer and the ways the Alabama Tourism Department can assist local agencies and organizations in increasing tourism in their areas.

Alabama Department of Tourism Director Lee Sentell spoke to the group via Skype as did Tourism personnel who spoke on communications, statistics, grants, public relations, social media marketing and advertising campaigns.

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Grey Brennan, who leads the Alabama Tourism Department’s marketing campaigns and international programs, said that the Department works diligently every day to promote Alabama.

“Recently, our Restaurant Week campaign was a way to showcase our locally owned restaurants,” he said. “Two hundred restaurants participated in this free promotion, several of them in Pike County. This campaign had 20,000 visitors on our website.”

Brennan said the Tourism Department’s Geotourism Map Guide locates points of interest statewide. The department publishes several magazines designed to generate interest in events throughout the state. The Department takes advantage of trade shows make people in other areas know what Alabama has to offer.

“We also partner with other states to invite tourists to come to the South,” Brennan said. “There is a lot of interest in the South and, we can benefit by partnering with other Southern states with our advertising.

Brennan said website partnerships range from the Deep South website which features Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana to Discover America which showcases the nation.

Alabama also courts the international tourism market, with the biggest number of visitors coming from the United Kingdom and Germany.

Shelia Jackson, Troy tourism director, said Rosemary Judkins, Tourism’s sale manager, was outstanding as the workshop leader.

“The response from the participants was good,” Jackson said.

“They learned a lot about their home state and all that it has to offer. That will make is easier for them to direct tourists to places of interest and bring awareness to events from Mobile to Huntsville.”

Jackson said the information on how to design brochures and apply for grant funding was extremely valuable.

“Matching grants are available for towns and cities to promote their communities,” Jackson said. “But, if you don’t know about them, then you can’t benefit from them.

“I was most impressed by the ways that welcome centers can assist communities. I think we all came away from the workshop better prepared to promote our communities and motivated to get up and get moving. Tourism is a big industry and we need to be active participants.”