Shelby County Chamber holds tourism luncheon

Published 3:40 pm Monday, August 8, 2022

By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce held a special luncheon on Wednesday, July 27 to discuss the county’s tourism revenue for the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 and related marketing strategies.

The luncheon, which was held at the Pelham Civic Complex, featured guest speaker Kendall Williams, the tourism and events manager for the county.

Throughout her presentation, she highlighted the Chamber’s top priorities in marketing Shelby County to further encourage outside organizations to choose the county as a host for various events. She first discussed the issues surrounding the former Discover Shelby marketing logo, saying it did not show off the county’s assets or amenities that attract people to the area.

“It made us take a step back and ask, ‘what type of tourist comes here?’” Williams explained.

She continued that there are ideally three types of tourists: First are residents are best ambassadors for spreading the word about what’s new and hip in the county; Second are leisure travel or people who come to Alabama for a fun getaway weekend; and third are the people who had to come to the area due to a work obligation or attending a conference or event.

Williams posed the question of what can Shelby County can do to enhance the experience of these individuals while they’re here, leading to the unveiling of the new Discover Shelby AL logo. She then highlighted a number of events coming to Shelby County in the next year, including the American Legion Baseball tournament, the Buster Britton Memorial Triathlon and the 16th Xterra mountain biking festival, which was canceled last year but is set to return May 2023.

“So, why is this important? Why do we want people to come visit?” she posed. “It’s because we use the lodging tax. The lodging tax is what allows us the opportunity to invest back into our own communities and enhance the quality of life for our residents. We use our visitors’ funds when they stay at our hotels and we invest them back into the community.”

Williams broke down the numbers involving lodging tax amounts in the past few years. The fiscal year runs from October through May. The fiscal year of 2022 saw a 32.2 percent increase in revenue compared to the 2021 fiscal year, while 2022 saw a 15 percent increase from 2019.

Data showed that May 2022 did see a $5,000, or 2 percent, decrease from May 2021, but she credited the decrease due to a delay in data reporting and also the Xterra festival having to cancel.

“This is proof that having these events really do help provide us more funding to help our communities thrive,” she said.

Williams then praised the county’s various parks and various trails, new and old, and their attractive qualities that bring people to the area.

“It’s gorgeous,” Williams said of Dunnavant Valley Park. “It really has the true setting of the natural feel of Dunnavant Valley. I think since we’ve opened, you cannot drive past this park without seeing so many cars in that parking lot. It has been such an asset to the community, and people drive from all over to see it. There’s even a story about a gentleman that saw the opening of the park, they came out and visited, loved the area, and they actually moved to the area to be closer to the park.”

Williams also revealed that the inaugural Discover Shelby Fest will take place on Saturday, Oct. 1. The event will be put on by the Shelby County Arts Council and the Chamber is sponsoring it.

“It’s a scalable event that we hope to grow over the years,” Williams said. “We hope to grow it into a music and wine festival.”

Williams encouraged those interested in helping boost the tourism by posting on social media and tagging Discover Shelby AL.

For more information on The Shelby County Chamber, visit Shelbychamber.org.