Alabama’s tourism industry impacts Pike County

Published 3:00 am Saturday, August 27, 2016

Alabama’s tourism industry is on pace for the fifth straight year of record attendance as guest expenditure should exceed $13 billion.

That was the good news that state tourism director Lee Sentell delivered to 300 industry professionals that gathered at Perdido Resort for their annual conference August 21-23.

Shelia Jackson, Troy tourism director, attended the conference and said Sentell had encouraging words about the future of tourism in Alabama.

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Sentell said that about 9 percent of all non-agricultural jobs in the state are created by the tourism industry. He projected that visitors will pay $856 million in state and local taxes by year’s end. Without those taxes, each household in Alabama would have to pay $424 in additional taxes to maintain current service levels.

“That was good news and it also highlighted the important role tourism plays in Alabama,” Jackson said. “Alabama’s tourism dollars have increased by $6 billion over the past 13 years.”

Jackson said the numbers show that more people are visiting Alabama and more Alabamians are vacationing here at home.

“We know by the out-of -state traffic on Highway 231, especially during the beach season, that people are traveling though Pike County,” she said. “And, our local businesses – restaurant, gas stations and motels — benefit directly and we all benefit through the tax dollars.”

Jackson said the Alabama Tourism Department’s  “Alabama Road Trips” promotion encourages Alabamians to see Alabama first.

“Alabama has it all,” she said. “We have beautiful beaches along the coast and rolling mountains in the north. We have lakes and rivers for fishing and boating and parks for hiking and picnicking. There are festivals somewhere in the state just about every weekend. We have art museums, a space center and minor league baseball. We have championship college football programs. We have it all.”

Jackson said TripAdvisor highlights Camp Butter and Egg, the Johnson Center for the Arts and the Pioneer Museum of Alabama in Troy and the We Piddle Around Theater and Larry Godwin’s rooster sculpture made of chrome car bumpers as local attractions and reasons to visit Pike County.

“Of course, Troy University offers year around entertainment with its athletic events and theater, dance and music productions and the Troy Arts Council offers local to international entertainment throughout the year,” Jackson said. “We benefit from tourism dollars through the state and also the dollars that are spent right here at home.”

Jackson said Alabama Bicentennial Commission Executive Director Jay Lamar discussed plans to celebrate the state’s upcoming bicentennial at the conference.

“There will be many activities leading up to 2019,” she said. “Local and statewide promotions are being planned that will attract tourists as well as local residents. The Alabama Bicentennial will be a great opportunity to showcase our community and bring visitors to our city.”