Sweet Home Savings campaign to boost August tourism
• Deadline for 2014 Vacation Guide & Calendar listings is Aug. 1
• Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism is Aug. 17 – 20 in Huntsville
• Birmingham magazine goes behind the scenes with Frank Stitt in Garden & Gun
• ‘Sunset Capital’ of Alabama promoted in the UK
• Fort Condé revitalized: new exhibits and never-before-seen artifacts
• Alabama’s 11 surviving historical covered bridges
• From ancient underwater forests to oak that ‘owns itself’
• Red Bull Stratos dives into U.S. Space & Rocket Center
• Outdoors: Alabama fishermen may get another shot at red snapper
• Two public boat ramps closing for renovations
• Sign-up for International Showcase in Nashville
• Tourism leaders honor U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner
• Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Sweet Home Savings campaign to boost August tourism

Industry partners can enter their deals for Alabama residents to enjoy during the month of August at restaurants, accommodations, ticketed attractions and gated events as part of a campaign to take advantage of later school year starts. This is an in-state campaign to boost tourism throughout Alabama during August. Enter your deal today to take part in this exciting, free campaign. Visit\portal to take advantage of this free tourism promotion campaign.
Participating is easy.
1. Visit\portal to register your business or organization in the campaign.
2. Enter your special deal. You can select from suggested deals or enter any deal you like. You can update or change your deals as needed. Website visitors will be informed that deals are subject to change, and to “book or reserve now OR call to confirm deals before you travel.”
3. The website and deals will be promoted through a full-scale marketing and advertising campaign this summer. You can benefit from the free promotion of your business and your deals through the Sweet Home Saving™ campaign.
Visit\portal and promote your exciting deals for Alabama residents in Aug.
For questions or more information, write or call (251) 967-7572.

Deadline for 2014 Vacation Guide & Calendar listings is Aug. 1

We look forward to featuring your organization, accommodation, attraction or resource center in the 2014 Sweet Home Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar of Events. To confirm, update or add a listing:
• Log on to the new website,, and either confirm, change or add your listing right then and there.
• The new online listings process, which is more efficient, will save you and the state a great deal of time and money.
• You can review or download the “quick start” guide which walks you through a few easy steps for updating or confirming your existing listing at this site:
• Please take a look at the quick start guide and visit the website to update your listing by Aug. 1.
Updating your listing will take only a few minutes. We hope you appreciate this easy and efficient process.
For any questions, e-mail or call Pam Smith at 334-353-4541.

Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism is Aug. 17 – 20 in Huntsville

Mark your calendars for the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Aug. 17-20, at the Westin Hotel in Huntsville next to Bridge Street with its’ seventy upscale shops, restaurants, movie theater and spa just footsteps away.
For information and registration, go to:

An Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism Facebook Page has been created. The link to it is If you have a FB account please “like” the page and “share” it on your page and/or invite your friends to like it.
Make a difference by donating to the AGCT Silent Auction to benefit the Alabama Tourism & Hospitality Industry Scholarship Fund

The Silent Auction held during the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism benefits the Alabama Tourism & Hospitality Industry Scholarship Fund. The AGCT Silent Auction has risen over $202,000 over the past 20 years. Scholarships are awarded annually to students currently working toward degrees in the field of hospitality, tourism, hotel, culinary or food service management. Students enrolled in four-year colleges/universities must be at least a second semester freshman, but no further along than a second semester junior at time of application. Students from two-year colleges must be at least in their second semester of their first year, but no further along than their first semester of their second year at time of application.

To make a Silent Auction Donation please visit: Scholarships will be awarded during the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism, August 17-20 at the Westin Huntsville.

Conference registration, full agenda and hotel reservations are available online at:

Wine and Craft Beer Pull scholarship fundraiser
The Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism is bringing back the Wine Pull Fundraiser to the annual conference to be held August 17—20, in Huntsville. Last year more than $2,000 was raised for the Hospitality and Tourism Industry “Scholarship Fund” and the 2013 goal is to double that amount. A Craft Beer Pull is being added to this year’s fundraiser venue.

What is a wine and beer pull?
An opportunity to pay $10 for a bottle of wine or assorted craft beers ranging in value from $20 to $120 or more.

Donate a bottle of wine or craft beer
Please help award more scholarship dollars by donating at least one bottle of wine or craft beer (valued at $20 or more). When you register for the Alabama Governor’s Conference, please commit to donating a bottle of wine, craft beer or a cash commitment. The Alabama Tourism Partnership will be glad to do the shopping for you.

Convenient donation drop-off locations
For your convenience drop-off locations are available in three regions of the State: South, Central, and North. Please contact the Alabama Travel Council directly and we are happy to make pick up arrangements with you.
For more information, contact:, or call (334) 271-0050

Birmingham magazine goes behind the scenes with Frank Stitt in Garden & Gun
by Brent Godwin, Birmingham Business Journal, July 29

If you’re a Birmingham foodie, you’ll probably enjoy every morsel of the day-in-the-life profile piece on chef Frank Stitt in Garden & Gun Magazine.

The magazine, which named Stitt a “Southern Master,” features a detailed hour-by-hour profile on the legendary chef written by Charles Gaines in its August/September issue. Stitt also recently served as a judge for the magazine’s Made in the South awards.
Gaines dives into every detail of what goes on in Stitt’s day as he manages his renowned quartet of Birmingham restaurants, Highlands Bar and Grill, Chez Fonfon, Bottega and Bottega Cafe.

From how the servers should carry themselves and open doors to the color of the strawberries which were picked on the Cullman farm that morning, Gaines paints the picture of Stitt’s restaurants as “a respite from all the horrors of the world with the happiness and comfort of good food.”

The profile also includes what is probably one of my all-time favorite phrases regarding food, “It is a dish to make you want to fall down on your knees and thank God you have a tongue.”

Check out Southern Masters: Frank Stitt, by Charles Gaines in the August/September 2013 issue of Garden & Gun at:

For the Birmingham Business Journal article, go to:

‘Sunset Capital’ of Alabama promoted in the UK

The naming of Dauphin Island as Alabama’s Sunset Capital was announced in the latest edition of the Deep South e-newsletter and blog. In the Friday July 26th edition of the newsletter was a beautiful photograph of an Alabama sunset from Dauphin Island with an announcement that read, “If you love panoramic sunsets you must visit Dauphin Island along the Gulf Coast which has recently been named the Sunset Capital in Alabama.” Also promoted in the newsletter was the National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores.

To read the blog posting about Alabama’s Sunset Capital, go to . The Deep South USA website and e-newsletter is a five-state joint tourism project in the United Kingdom to attract tourism to the states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Fort Condé revitalized: new exhibits and never-before-seen artifacts
by Sally Pearsall Ericson,, July 18

Fort Condé, one of Mobile’s most beloved landmarks, is being re-imagined as a gateway to the city’s 300-year history, with new chambers opened up for exhibits and a plethora of never-before-seen artifacts.

“We’re trying to take it and interpret it, which has never been done before,” said Jacob Laurence, curator of exhibits at the History Museum, who has taken the lead on the project. “We’re trying to give it some context so that our museum can grow.”

The reconstructed fort on Royal Street opened July 4, 1976. The original was built in 1723 and was in use for nearly 100 years, as the city changed hands from its French founders to the English to the Spanish.

With the new exhibits, “Fort Condé: Mobile Starts Here,” visitors will get an overview of Mobile’s history from its time as the Bienville brothers’ stomping grounds in 1702 right through the War of 1812.

The work is being done within the museum’s budget, at no extra cost to the city, Laurence said. “The museum attendants got in and said, ‘we can get behind this.’ We’ve had everybody coming together.” The museum also received grants from the J.L. Bedsole Foundation and the Sybil H. Smith Charitable Trust.

The main attraction will be the newly-opened galleries in the fort’s southeast corner, where visitors will see fascinating bits of history.

The collection includes a piece of the original wooden palisade; one of the fort’s first locks; an array of glazed ceramics found when workers were reconstructing the fort in 1976; and a steamer trunk that belonged to the Spaniard who originally settled the Chickasabogue area, Don Miguel Alvarez, who laid claim to the area in the late 1700s. His descendants donated the trunk to the History Museum three years ago, Laurence said.
The hands-on displays include a table top puzzle, “Defense by Design,” with wooden pieces that children can manipulate to create the distinctive star shape of the original fort.

“We want repeat visitors and we want to create a museum experience,” Laurence said.
“It’s a labor of love,” said Laurence. “I want to see this become the anchor for the downtown museum district. That’s the goal.”

The fort is still open for visitors – there is no admission fee – but some of the galleries are closed while the exhibits are being organized. The grand opening will be Oct. 6.
To read the entire article, go to:

Alabama’s 11 surviving historical covered bridges
by Kelly Kazek, – Odd Travels, July 18

Alabama has 11 remaining historical covered bridges. They are:
•Alamuchee-Bellamy Bridge in Livingston in Sumter County. An 88-foot span built in 1861. Moved to the University of West Alabama campus in 1971.

•Clarkson-Legg Bridge in Bethel in Cullman County. A 270-foot span built in 1904 over Crooked Creek. Burned and rebuilt in 1920. Now open to walking traffic.

•Coldwater Bridge in Oxford in Calhoun County. A 60-foot span over an inlet in Oxford Lake. Built sometime from 1839-1850. Moved to Oxford Lake Park in 1990. The oldest remaining covered bridge in Alabama.

•Easley Bridge in Rosa in Blount County. A 95-foot span over built in 1927 over Dub Branch. One of Blount’s three covered bridges restored and re-opened to traffic in 2012.

•Gilliland-Reese Bridge in Gadsden in Etowah County. An 85-foot span built in 1899 and moved to Noccalula Falls Park in 1967. Originally located on the plantation of Judge H. Ross Gilliland over Little Wills Creek in Reece City (the spelling of the bridge was changed to “Reese”).

•Horton Mill Bridge in Oneonta in Blount County. A 220-foot span built in 1934 over the Calvert Prong in the Warrior River. At 70 feet above the water, it is the highest covered bridge over any U.S. waterway. One of Blount’s three covered bridges restored and re-opened to traffic this year.

•Kymulga Bridge in Childersburg in Talladega County. A 105-foot span built in 1861over Talladega Creek. Restored in 1974 along with the Kymulga Park grist mill.

•Old Union Crossing Bridge in Mentone in DeKalb County. A 90-foot span on private property over the Little river. Built in Calhoun County in 1863 by Union troops for access over Otter Creek, now a dry bed. It was moved to its current location in 1972.

•Salem-Shotwell Bridge in Opelika in Lee County. A portion of a bridge damaged in 2005 by a falling tree. Originally built as a 76-foot span over Rocky Brook in 1900, a 43-foot portion was rebuilt from the ruins and installed at Opelika Municipal Park.

•Swann Bridge in Cleveland in Blount County. This324-foot span built in 1933 over the Black Warrior River is the longest in state. One of Blount’s three covered bridges restored and re-opened to traffic in 2012.

•Waldo Bridge in Waldo in Talladega County. A 115-foot span built in 1858 over Talladega Creek. Now located behind Old Riddle Mill, which was converted to a restaurant.

To see the article, go to:

From ancient underwater forests to oak that ‘owns itself’
by Kelly Kazek, – Odd Travels, July 25

Alabama is filled with strange and unusual tales, and some of those literally grow on trees.

Just as the poisoning of Auburn University’s Toomer’s oaks reminded us how our roots blend with traditions, the 2012 discovery of an underwater forest off Alabama’s Gulf coast reminds us of ancient ties to the land. Earlier this month, scientists announced they believe the forest, located 10 miles out and 60 feet beneath the ocean, could be as much as 50,000 years old.

In honor of recent loss of the beloved Toomer’s oaks and the discovery of the underwater cypress forest their discoverer calls “enchanted,” I gathered stories behind some of Alabama’s famous trees.

The tree that owns itself
A post oak in the picturesque town of Eufaula was, by some accounts, more than 200 years old when it achieved its liberation and subsequent fame in 1936. It had survived mishaps – the fire that destroyed the home of Confederate Capt. John A. Walker, in whose yard the oak stood, and a terrible tornado in 1919.

Mrs. Leonard Y. Dean, president of the Eufaula Garden Club in 1936, wanted to ensure the 65-foot-tall, 85-foot-wide tree survived for another 200 years. So she petitioned Mayor Hamp Graves Sr. and the city council, who asked Lt. Gov. Charles S. McDowell to draw up a “deed of sentiment.” In essence, the tree was deeded to itself.

But misfortune struck on April 9, 1961, when a storm toppled the mighty Walker Oak. A local business, International Paper Co., came to the rescue and donated a new oak. On April 19, 1961, the replacement tree was planted in the same spot.

To read about five other trees, go to:

Red Bull Stratos dives into U.S. Space & Rocket Center

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) will be the next stop of the traveling Red Bull Stratos exhibit. The Austrian skydiver and BASE jumper, Felix Baumgartner teamed with Red Bull last October to complete a record breaking jump from the edge of space. The Stratos mission served to further the progress of aerospace safety, both for human travelers and equipment development.

The USSRC will host a ribbon cutting ceremony Aug. 8, at 4:00 p.m. On display will be the suit and capsule that took Baumgartner to the stratosphere. Joe Kittenger —personal mentor of Baumgartner, Art Thompson— project director, and Dr. Jonathan Clark— medical director, will be at the Space & Rocket Center on August 15 to speak. The space center will host the three members of the Mission Stratos team to speak on their key parts in the project, followed by a question and answer session.

Baumgartner broke three world records with his jump last year. He became the first human to break the speed of sound in free-fall, he completed the highest free fall and he manned the highest balloon flight; though the record for longest free-fall is kept by his project mentor Col. Joe Kittenger.

For more information and to join the conversation, follow @RedBullStratos on Twitter or visit
If you need more information regarding the event or the lecture, please contact Tim D. Hall at or at (256) 722-5609.

Outdoors: Alabama fishermen may get another shot at red snapper
by David Rainer, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, The Montgomery Advertiser, July 28

If projections by the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are fairly accurate, Alabama anglers may get another bite at the red snapper apple.

At a recent special meeting held in New Orleans, the Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council voted to add about 2.5 million pounds to the red snapper quota for 2013. That additional quota will be divided between the commercial and recreational sectors, so each sector will get a little more than a million pounds. With current projections, NMFS has tentatively scheduled a fall snapper season in October.

“The fall season in October could be two weeks, three weeks, maybe even a month,” said Bob Shipp, Gulf Council member and chairman of the Marine Sciences Department at the University of South Alabama (USA). “It all depends on how close we are to the projections for the June quota.”

Considering that projections in recent years were not very accurate and the recreational sector exceeded its quota the past two years, some may not be too optimistic. However, Shipp said NMFS appears to have learned from its mistakes.

“The Fisheries Service has adjusted their methods of projections, and they should be a lot better than before,” Shipp said during a break from weighing fish at the 80th annual Alabama Deep Sea Fishing Rodeo on Dauphin Island. “Another thing, we’re not going to go over this year because of the split season. If we were to come in way over, we just wouldn’t have a fall season. Overall, it would keep the recreational catch within its quota.”

The reason the additional quota was made available to the Gulf Council was the result of a new stock assessment that was completed earlier this year.

“It’s called a benchmark stock assessment, which means it starts from scratch with new data and new models,” Shipp said. “It took about two years to do it. Everybody knew the stocks were showing improvement, but we had to get that stock assessment under out belts. Personally, I think we could have gone another couple of million pounds, but there is some concern that recruitment (juvenile fish entering the population) is starting to fall off, and they didn’t want to cut back next year if the recruitment was poor. To me, all indications are that recruitment is fine. Nevertheless, that’s where we ended up.

Two public boat ramps closing for renovations

The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR) Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division (WFF) began renovating the public boat ramp located at Beeswax Park on Lay Lake on, July 29, 2013. The renovation will include replacing the two existing launching ramps with a single, 60-foot-wide launching slab capable of launching up to four boats simultaneously. Construction is expected to last approximately four months.

During the construction of the new launching slab at Lay Lake, one of the two existing launching ramps will remain open to the public. However, tournament directors should avoid holding large events at this facility until construction is complete.
The ADCNR and the WFF will also begin renovating the state public boat ramp located near Jordan Dam on Boat Ramp Road during the week of Aug. 19. The renovation will include replacing the two existing launching ramps with a single 60-foot-wide launching slab capable of accommodating four boats simultaneously. The renovation is expected to take approximately three to four months to complete.

During the project period, the Lay Lake facility will be closed to public use. Boaters wishing to access Lake Jordan prior to December 1 should use the Bonner’s Point Public Boat Ramp off of Highway 111 just south of Holtville/Slapout.

“The new launching slab should significantly reduce congestion at both sites: Lake Jordan by doubling the number of launch lanes and improving the sight distance for boaters backing trailers into the water; and allowing for the addition of several new parking spaces to accommodate more anglers at Lay Lake” said Damon Abernethy, WFF Fisheries Development Coordinator.

Due to the timing and duration of the drawdown periods on Coosa River impoundments this fall, it will be necessary to complete these two projects in conjunction with each other.

“The drawdowns on each reservoir occur too close together for each project to be completed independently,” Abernathy said. “Construction crews will be required to move equipment back and forth between the two projects to complete tasks at critical stages of construction.”

Anglers and boaters who would like more information about the boat ramp closings or updates during the project period should visit: for Lake Jordan, and: for Beeswax Boat Ramp renovation project; or call the WFF Fisheries Section at 334-242-3471.

Sign-up for International Showcase in Nashville

Registration is currently underway for the International Showcase held in Nashville, Dec. 3-6, 2013. This will be the second international show presented by Travel South. Last year the response from both overseas tour companies and Alabama suppliers was great.

Nashville will be an exciting city for the International tour operators, so I think the level and number of companies attending will be even better. In anticipation, this year the showcase will have two full days of appointments instead of just a day and a half. This will allow you to have even more appointments. More than 75 international tour operators from more than a dozen countries around the globe are expected to attend.
Thanks to the large number of Alabama suppliers that signed up last year, Alabama projected a solid image of an area of the south where tourist should and do come to spend their money and have a good time.

Sign up now. The early bird special pricing that starts as low as $995 for a single seat at a three-seat appointment table ends Aug. 31. For the best appointment results, come with two others from your area and have a unified tourism message. Starting Sept. 1, the price of appointment taking admission will be higher.

To sign up, look at all pricing and regulations, go to:,
and to download the International Showcase brochure, go to:!userfiles/showcase/International%20Showcase/IntlShowcase2013_Brochure.pdf

Travel South is expecting that booth space will sell out, so the Alabama Tourism Department suggests destinations, attractions and accommodations register as soon as possible to make sure you can attend.

For more information, contact Liz Bittner at Travel South or
Grey Brennan, Alabama Tourism Department, 334-242-4459,

Tourism leaders honor U.S. Rep. Jo Bonner

Tourism professionals from Huntsville to Dothan to Mobile filled the ballroom at the historic Battle House Hotel on Friday to honor retiring Congressman Jo Bonner for his support of the industry while co-chair of the House Travel and Tourism Caucus in Washington.

State tourism director Lee Sentell presented a plaque noting Bonner’s service during his 11 years in Congress representing the First Congressional District in Southwest Alabama. Other speakers were Alabama Travel Council executive Patti Culp, Mobile Film Office director Eva Golson, Tami Reist of Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourism Association, Herb Malone of Gulf Shores, and Bob Hendrix of Dothan, who represented the Southeast Tourism Society.

Bonner will resign Aug. 1 to accept a position with the University of Alabama System.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Aug. 4-7 Alabama Motorcoach/Georgia Motorcoach Operators/South Central Motorcoach Association, Birmingham
Aug. 16-25 Alabama Restaurant Week
Aug. 17-21 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism – Huntsville, AL (Westin)
Sept. 19 Alabama Mountain Lakes Annual Meeting
Dec. 3-6 International Showcase, Nashville
Feb. 23-26, 2014 Domestic Showcase, Charleston, WV

ATD is currently registering and planning for the following 2014 Consumer Shows:
Cincinnati Boat and Travel Show – Jan. 17-19 & Jan. 22-26, 2014
Louisville Boat Show – Jan. 22-26, 2014
Indianapolis Boat and RV Show – Feb. 14-23, 2014
Nashville Southern Women’s Show – Mar. 27-30, 2014
If you are interested in working in the Alabama Tourism Department’s booth, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or

The Alabama Tourism Department News is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry. The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to: