Beaches, golf, mountains and rockets

Published 9:35 am Tuesday, February 8, 2022

By BETH CHAPMAN | Guest Columnist

No, this is not a column about “a few of my favorite things,” but about Alabama’s incredible tourism industry. Tourism is a key component of Alabama’s economy.

In 2020, more than 22.5 million visitors in Alabama spent $13.3 billion on food, accommodations, travel, shopping and incidentals, according to the state tourism department. Tourism also employs over 200,000 people both full and part-time. If that’s not impressive enough, tourism represents 7% of Alabama’s private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generate over $1 billion dollars of Alabama’s state tax revenues.

Congratulations to Lee Sentell, long-time Alabama Tourism Department director. He has done so many things to improve tourism in our state, including managing tourism expenditures in a time when they grew from $6 billion in 2003 to $17 billion in 2019. The department’s annual report is due any time now, and there is no telling what other enormous numbers will be revealed.

The Alabama Department of Tourism’s newest attraction is an “All-in-One Ticket,” which allows travelers to visit multiple attractions at a more affordable price. The “All-in-One Ticket” creates a chance for tour operators and tourists to plan state trips with an itinerary designed for flexibility and exploration.

With the “All-in-One Ticket,” travelers can pay one flat rate for multiple attractions. The tickets include 39 Alabama tourist spots. They reach across north and central Alabama down to Montgomery and Selma.

Each ticket will allow admission to all attractions listed within the package. Each “All-in-One” ticket has a special grouping within regional areas of the state, most offering one-, two- or five-day options at one low price. The “All-in-One Ticket” grants one-time admission to all tourism attractions listed on that ticket, for the timespan purchased at a savings versus buying singly at each admission rate.

There are six Alabama ticket packages: The Huntsville and North Alabama Attraction Ticket, The Florence/Muscle Shoals Attraction Ticket, The Birmingham Attraction Ticket, The Birmingham Area Family Fun Ticket, The Montgomery Attraction Ticket and The Montgomery, Selma & Tuskegee Attraction Ticket.

These packages are now available and can be purchased through a web-based platform at Alabama.travel. Once purchased, tickets will reside on your mobile device. You do not need an app to purchase tickets.

Congratulations again to Lee Sentell, his staff and all the tourism professionals in our state for catapulting Alabama’s tourism industry during challenging times. Thank God for beaches, golf, mountains, rockets and so much more. Alabama has it all. Get out and explore something new today.