‘Sky’ high on Alabama: Air travelers worldwide can read article on state’s economic rise
• Alabama Restaurant Week grows to 71, more requested
• Deadline for towns to sign-up for 2014 April Walking Tours is July 1
• Aug. 1, is deadline to update your listings for the 2014 Alabama Vacation Guide & Calendar of Events.
• 7,000 UK travel professionals to receive new Sweet Home Alabama Travel Guide
• Chicago Tribune says “Don’t underestimate Alabama’s coast”
• Birmingham given bragging rights and new title as “All America City”
• Nicolas Cage movie films in Mobile
• Alabama seafood coast documentary wins Emmy
• CNN Travel lists Flora-bama as one of the world’s best beach bars
• Southern Airways Express lands in Gulf Shores
• America’s best little beach towns
• Warming the Welcome – unique tourism programs aim to attract travelers to the Southeast
• DeSoto State Park’s Mountain Inn restaurant re-opens
• Montgomery to host 2013 Southeastern Regional Series Capital of Dreams Criterium and Road Race
• Remember to vote for Tuscaloosa in Benjamin Moore’s “Paint what matters” contest
• Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism opens Aug. 18, in Huntsville
• Silent Auction to benefit the Alabama industry scholarships
• Cullman looking for full-time tourism director
• Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events
• 57 Alabama nominations posted in National Geographic Map Project, more needed


‘Sky’ high on Alabama: Air travelers worldwide can read article on state’s economic rise
by Alvin Benn, The Montgomery Advertiser, June 17
Alabama is making quite a splash as a result of an article in a Delta Air Lines magazine that lavishes praise on a state that has made dramatic positive strides in recent years.
The 44-page profile, titled “Alabama” across the top of the Birmingham skyline, traces the state’s rapid economic ascent from cotton to cars, from textiles to technical marvels, and much more.
Geared toward domestic and international air travelers, especially those with financial clout, Sky magazine reaches millions of readers every year as passengers stretch out for long flights and look for something interesting to read.

Placement in the June issue cost public and private entities thousands of dollars, but there were few, if any, complaints, especially after supporters took a gander at the finished product.
“Wow!” was the word used by U.S. Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, when asked for an opinion on the story as she took her seat aboard a commuter jet about to head home from Atlanta on June 6.
Roby said her congressional colleagues have been telling her how much they enjoyed it, too, one saying: “Hey, I just read this great article about what’s going on in Alabama.”

“This kind of positive publicity for our state is invaluable,” Roby said. “We all know that major progress is happening in Alabama, but I’m glad that story is being told worldwide.”
Many state and local leaders have been involved in supporting the “Delta Sky Project,” as it’s called, but most of the credit has been directed toward Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce.

Canfield’s vision was to produce something so special that readers unfamiliar with Alabama’s amazing transformation will take another look — especially those involved in industrial development and, perhaps, looking for an ideal location to consider.

Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell said any skepticism he might have had about the magazine idea vanished the moment he looked at it during a “launch party” in Birmingham late last month.
“In my opinion, this is the finest marketing effort that various elements of state government and economic development agencies have ever done,” Sentell said. “All Alabamians should be proud of how it looks.”

For the entire article, go to:

Alabama Restaurant Week grows to 71, more requested
As of Tues., June 18, 71 restaurants have signed up for Alabama Restaurant Week, a Year of Alabama Food promotion that runs Aug. 16 – Aug. 25.
Those restaurants are:
Auburn – Ariccia Italian Trattoria & Bar
Bessemer – The Bright Star
Bon Secour – The Tin Top Restaurant & Oyster Bar
Centre – Pat’s
Decatur – Albany Bistro, Simp McGee’s, Timbuck 2, Vittone’s
Dothan – Basketcase Café, Fire Stone Wood Fired Pizza and Grill, Nektar
Elkmont – Belle Chevre Cheese Shop & Tasting Room
Enterprise – Milky Moo’s Homemade Ice Cream
Eufaula – Phip’s BBQ, Water’s Edge Restaurant
Fairhope – Old 27 Grill
Gulf Shores – LuLu’s, Coast Restaurant, Pelican Sam’s Roost, Village Hideaway
Hammondville – Big Jim’s Bama Q
Huntsville – 1892 East Restaurant & Tavern, Clementine’s, Sandwich Farm, Shea’s Express, Café Berlin, D&L Bistro, Tazik’s Mediterranean Café, Clementine’s At the Garden, Nick’s Restorante, Happy Tummy, Grille 29, Sage Grill
Luverne – Mainstreet Sweets
Mobile – 219, Serda’s Coffee Co., The Harbor Room, True Midtown Kitchen, The Italian Fisherman
Monroeville – David’s Catfish House
Montgomery – The Tipping Point, Martha’s Place, Wishbone Café
Moulton – Lang’s Latte’ Café
New Market – New Market BBQ, Ole Hickory BBQ
Northport – Clark’s Sports Pub & Grill
Orange Beach – Cobalt, Cosmo’s Restaurant, Dancing Cup Café, Gulfgate, The Southern Grind, Villaggio Grill
Pine Hill – Maness’s Family Restaurant
Point Clear – Saltwater Grill
Rogersville – Café Savanna, Daniella’s In the Park
Spanish Fort – Felix’s Fish Camp
Tanner – LawLers Barbecue
Troy – Milky Moo’s Homemade Ice Cream, Sisters Restaurant, The BBQ House, The Brick Sports Grill, The Party Pad, Mugshoots Grill & Bar
Tuscaloosa – Cypress Inn, Chuck’s Fish, Epiphany, Glory Bound Gyro Company, Full Moon BBQ
Tuscumbia – OH! Bryan’s Downtown

This list does not include the many restaurants in the Birmingham area that participate by signing up for Birmingham Restaurant Week, held on the same dates.

Grey Brennan of the Alabama Tourism Department encourages restaurants to sign up. “The process is quick and easy using the on-line sign up program at , says Brennan. “Restaurants should enter now and then go back by the deadline date of July 15 to enter their special Restaurant Week meal offerings.”

There is no cost to the restaurant to participate in Alabama Restaurant Week. Birmingham Restaurant Week does charge a small fee.

For more on Alabama Restaurant Week, contact Grey Brennan   Restaurants in the Birmingham area should contact James Little of REV Birmingham 205-324-8797

Deadline for towns to sign-up for April 2014 Walking Tours is July 1
Towns interested in participating in the 2014 April Walking Tours should respond with an email giving their town’s name, starting location, and shipping address to

Towns who have already signed-up include: Arab, Athens, Atmore, Bessemer, Cullman, Decatur, Dothan, Eufaula, Fairhope, Florence, Heflin, Huntsville, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Phenix City, Prattville, Selma, Sheffield, Sylacauga, Troy, Tuscumbia and Wetumpka.

The hour long tours will start at 10:00 a.m. each Saturday morning in April. Dates for the 2014 April Walking Tours are April 5, 12, 19 and 26.

“These tours are an excellent way for towns and communities of any size to be involved in a state-wide tourism campaign,” said Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department. “There is no cost to participate and state tourism provides all the posters, brochures and collateral materials. More than 20,000 people have participated in the tours since the beginning of the program ten years ago” he said.

Aug. 1, is deadline to update your listings for the 2014 Alabama Vacation Guide & Calendar of Events.

It’s that time of year again…time to make sure your accommodation or attraction is up-to-date and listed correctly in Alabama’s official travel and tourism guide—Sweet Home Alabama.

The 2014 Sweet Home Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar of Events has grown over the years into an impressive, coffee table-style reference book that is both informative and beautiful to flip through.

The well-crafted articles, striking photography and detailed listings make it not only a resource but a pleasure to review. We are proud of how far it has come, and we are excited about this year’s guide being our best yet.

This year, another exciting development has been the creation of an online, electronic database listings update process. Never again will you have to sort through numerous mailings and mail back your listings update or confirmation.

Now, you will be able to follow a few simple steps to confirm, update or add a listing:
• Simply log on to the new website,, and either confirm, change or add your listing right then and there.
• Our new online listings process will save you and the state a great deal of time and money.   It is much more efficient, and we hope you will appreciate this step we have taken to make this advancement.
• 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 August 1.
Updating your listing will take only a few minutes.   We hope you appreciate this easy and efficient process!

We look forward to featuring your organization, accommodation, attraction or resource center in the 2014 Sweet Home Alabama Vacation Guide and Calendar of Events.
For any questions, e-mail or call Pam Smith at 334-353-4541.

7,000 UK travel professionals to receive new Sweet Home Alabama Travel Guide
Alabama’s United Kingdom in-market tourism office has printed a new Sweet Home Alabama Travel Guide. The 12-page publication is a fulfillment item for those contacting the office for tourism information. In addition, the travel guide will be given out at trade shows and included in the Selling Long Haul magazine that is being delivered to 17,000 UK travel professionals this month. Selling Long Haul is also currently featuring the “comprehensive new destination guide” on its website.

The guide includes a list of 12 ways to experience Alabama, a welcome page with travel times from nearby cities, a map and a series of two pages feature sections.

The features are; food, music & entertainment; nature and adventure; history and culture; and itineraries for families, active vacationers, golfers and relaxation.

Attractions and destinations featured in copy or on the map are; RTJ Golf Trail, Bayou La Batre, Birmingham, Daphne, Dauphin Island, Eastern Shore, Fairhope, Foley, Fort Payne, Gulf Shores, Guntersville, Huntsville, Lookout Mountain, Mentone, Mobile, Monroeville, Montgomery, Mountain Creek, Muscle Shoals, Orange Beach, Prattville, Phenix City, Point Clear, Selma, Spanish Fort, Steele, Talladega, Tuscaloosa, and Tuskegee.

For more information, contact Della Tully at or Grey Brennan at For the on-line digital edition, go to:

Chicago Tribune says “Don’t underestimate Alabama’s coast”
by Katherine Rodeghier, special to Tribune Newspapers,June 11
“I haven’t found a seafood I didn’t like,” Al Sawyer said. That’s saying something for a 60-something who has spent his whole life on Alabama’s coast catching, selling and cooking seafood.

“When I was a boy, my father took me out to Bon Secour Bay, and we shucked oysters right there in the water,” he said. “That was the first seafood I ever had, and I fell in love with it.”
He hopes you’ll love it too.

After a career in sales for a local fishery and a couple of stints working in restaurants, Sawyer and wife, Diane, opened their own eatery. It’s the sort of ma-and-pa place you might pass by without a second thought — until you see the line of hungry people waiting outside.

The small, white, one-story building with royal-blue roof and awning looks like it might have been a 1960s gas station or fast-food joint. Popular with locals and visitors in the know, King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant serves up some of the most critically acclaimed platters of seafood on Alabama’s 32 miles of coastline.

And it’s a bargain, too, with a $4.95 lunch special.
You’ll find Sawyer’s beloved Bon Secour oysters and some blue crab on the menu, but 60 percent of the orders are shrimp, he said. Neptune’s is known for its royal reds: shrimp almost as big as a banana and as succulent as lobster.

Ask the locals about their favorite seafood spots, and they’ll reel them off with ease: Neptune’s, of course, but also Gulf Shores Steamer, Live Bait and Tacky Jacks (with a gift shop selling souvenirs a bit, well, tacky). They all do shrimp, oysters, crab and a panoply of fish, much of it fried.

“This is the stroke belt; everything is fried down here,” quipped Capt. Skip of Sailaway Charters, who will show you how your seafood meal was caught during his two-hour nature tours. The tours are very enlightening, especially for those who have never tossed a line in the water. Seafood, after all, does not come from a menu.

Capt. Skip, aka John William Beebe, sailed to the Alabama coast from San Diego through the Panama Canal, stopping off in several countries along the way, including Guatemala, where he met his wife-to-be, Janet. A certified nature guide, he and Janet take kids and curious adults onto the bayous and back bays off the Gulf Coast, departing from the dock off their home in Orange Beach, Ala.

Cutting the engine of his pontoon boat, he moved to the back, grabbed what looked like supersized salad tongs and plunged them into the bottom of the bayou. Up came a couple of oysters, nasty-looking things covered in muck.

They’re actually little cleaning machines, Capt. Skip said, filtering several gallons of water per hour. The state of Alabama tests the waters where they are harvested for bacteria and shuts down oystering if water quality drops, such as when, for example, heavy rain causes runoff from farm fields. Commercial oystermen must document where each oyster is taken to ensure it is harvested from approved waters.

Out in Wolf Bay, Capt. Skip stopped again and pulled up a wire cage in which a nice blue crab skittered about. Every three months a crab molts, then double or triples in size, he said. Those menacing claws make good eating; order them steamed at Tacky Jacks, he recommended.

Capt. Skip fired up the engine again and eased the boat into a speed approximating a fast walk as he let out his shrimping net. At that pace, the net skims the bottom of the bay, where shrimp feed. According to Alabama law, recreational shrimpers can drag their nets for only 18 minutes. This limit is designed to protect the “by-catch,” meaning other marine life inadvertently caught in the net.

As porpoises jumped off the starboard side and sea gulls screeched overhead, Capt. Skip dumped the contents of his net into a big aquarium. There were the shrimp — real beauties — but also squid, eel, tiny crabs and an assortment of fish the length of a pencil. We took a good look before they all went back overboard to swim another day.

For bigger fish that you can keep and cook, you’ll have to catch your own. Though Alabama’s footprint on the Gulf is minuscule compared with neighboring states, it has more than 100 charter boat captains operating from its marinas. An artificial reef created when the state dumped its obsolete voting machines a few miles offshore makes a decent habitat for marine life.

Take a four-hour inshore charter, and chances are you will hook a Spanish mackerel at 2 feet in length or king mackerel a yard or so long. Go farther out into the Gulf on a six-hour offshore charter and you may land triggerfish, amberjack, bonita or the highly prized grouper and red snapper. The crew will clean them for you.

If you’re renting a condo, you can cook your catch yourself, or you can take it to Shipp’s Harbour Grill, one of half-dozen local restaurants that do “hook and cook” meals. They will turn your catch of the day into a gourmet platter with just the right sauces and sides.

If you go
King Neptune’s Seafood Restaurant, 251-968-5464,
Gulf Shores Steamer, 251-948-6344,
Live Bait, 251-974-1612,
Tacky Jacks, 251-948-8881, 251-968-8341, 251-981-4144 and 251-621-8988;
Shipp’s Harbour Grill, 251-981-9891,
Nature cruise: Sailaway Charters, 251-974-5055,
Charter fishing boats: AAA Charters, 251-609-2625 or 251- 948-2525
National Shrimp Festival: Oct. 10-13: 250,000 visitors, two stages of live music, 250 food and retail vendors,
Visitor information: Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, 800-745-7263,

Birmingham given bragging rights and new title as “All America City”
by Joseph D. Bryant,, June 17
The city of Birmingham was named an “All-America City” by the National Civic League, capturing bragging rights for the first time in 42 years.

Banners declaring Birmingham an “All-America City,” are certain to appear following the designation made at a ceremony in Denver.

“This is a great honor for the city of Birmingham. Our delegation worked many long hours to see that Birmingham’s story was told and told correctly,” Mayor William Bell said in statement after the Sunday night presentation. “We are thankful that the National Civic League jury recognized that Birmingham is ’50 years forward,’ and we look forward to working to prepare the city for the next 50 years, the next generation.

Bell’s ’50 years forward’ reference was regarding the city’s year-long commemoration activities recognizing the 50th anniversary of major civil rights events of 1963.

To be considered, participants must list three examples of significant community change and planning over the last five years.

The city made its application in partnership with the Birmingham Business Alliance.
The award recognizes several communities each year for innovation, inclusiveness, civic engagement and collaboration to address local challenges,
“The All-America City distinction is a well-deserved honor for the City of Birmingham,” Fred McCallum, president of AT&T Alabama and 2013 chairman of the Birmingham Business Alliance, said in a joint statement with Bell. “This validates to the world what people in Birmingham already know -this is a great place to live and work – and it will be a useful tool to entice companies to relocate and expand in our region.”

Bell, several members of his staff members, BBA’s Nan Baldwin, and Red Mountain Theatre Company’s leading actor Cecil Washington Jr. traveled to Denver for an extensive presentation before the Civic League.

Birmingham will be part of a report produced by the National Civic League to help other communities seeking to improve current initiatives or establish new ones to benefit citizens.
Other cities named as 2013 winners are: Downey, Calif.; Montrose, Col., Peoria, Ill.; Dubuque, Iowa; Owensboro, Ky.; Dunn, N.C.; Garner, N.C.; Thomasville, N.C. and Norfolk, Va.
To see the article, go to:

Nicolas Cage movie films in Mobile
by Michael Brannon, Jun 10, WALA Fox 10, Mobile
Two big-name stars are in town for one big movie. “Tokarev”, starring Nicolas Cage and Danny Glover, began filming June 10 in Downtown Mobile.
Fans of Cage can expect a high-impact thriller from this film being filmed in and around the Mobile area.

“You’re going to be on a ride with this chase scene,” said Second Unit Director and Stunt Coordinator Johnny Martin.

He’s thrilled to be filming in Mobile.

“With a lot of the cities we go to is being able to provide a movie with the best streets and the best quality for the movie. But the first street that I saw here was Royal Street and that street, I had to do my chase scene. It’s tight. The buildings are beautiful. And the city has been so cooperative. They’ve allowed us to shut down the streets to film this great chase scene,” said Martin.
For some of the cast and crew, this is their first time in the Port City.

“I’m really used to the humidity, so I’m not affected, and the Southern hospitality is great,” said Tom Waite.

Waite is Cage’s stunt double in the film. He’s from Florida but said Mobile has been a real treat so far.
“Everybody’s really friendly. In LA, when people are friendly, you’re always like: what do you want? Down here everyone is just very friendly. It’s great!” said Waite.

Producer Michael Mendelsohn said being in Mobile allows the crew to help out local communities.
“We want to apologize to the citizens and residents of Mobile for blocking off some of their streets. We’re trying to bring business to the town, and jobs. We’ve hired over 200 people here and really appreciate that Mobile is such a good place,” said Mr. Mendelsohn.

For producer Richard Rionda Del Castro, it was a no-brainer to come to Mobile – even though it was a quick decision. Thanks to the Alabama Film Office, they are here filming for six weeks.
“They have been extremely efficient in our needs, securing out location. So Michael and I took the decision. In 48 hours to come to Alabama,” said Del Castro.

Kathy Faulk is the manager of the Alabama Film Office.
“When I look around this room, and see all these people working, I’ve talked to so many of them from Alabama, from these parts, it just warms my heart to see this industry here and see all these people working,” said Faulk.

She said bringing movie production to the state means more jobs and an economic boom to the area.

“We have a lot going on lately, but this is the biggest thing to date under the incentive, so we’re thrilled. We hope everyone realizes this is a real industry now. It’s creating jobs and that’s what this is all about. We’re very excited,” said Faulk.

Members of the cast and crew are excited that the production of the film is here in Mobile.
“This is my first time to come back to Alabama and film,” said Michael Papajohn.
Papajohn is a native-Alabamaian. From Spider-Man to Transformers and The Dark Knight Rises, he’s seen it all. In “Tokarev”, he plays “Vory.”

“It means everything to me. To live here, the quality of life. The food, the people, SEC football, SEC sports. I’m on the set meeting the girl who’s doing my makeup, and she lives in Mobile, you know, and that’s what’s really, really cool that you don’t have to move to Los Angeles. You don’t have to move to New York. You can actually be right here because of these tax incentives that Alabama is doing,” he said.

Those tax incentives are what helped land the film in Alabama.
Mendelsohn is pleased to be filming here.

“Richard and I discussed several many factors. Financial incentives have been improved. We created the creative aspects of shooting a picture in Alabama, and the physical aspects. Would our talent be comfortable in Alabama? We brought on young people that are just getting into the film business and trying to teach them how to work with major stars,” said Mendelsohn.

“There’s a smile on my face between takes that I’ve never had before, if that makes sense. You know, just because I’m home. Alabama: home sweet home, brother!” said Papajohn.
Cast and crew will be in Mobile through July. “Tokarev” is due out next year.

For the entire article, go to:
Also see article at:

Alabama seafood coast documentary wins Emmy
by Tamara Ikenberg, June 12,
At an Atlanta awards ceremony last Saturday, a locally-made documentary starring Bayou La Batre won an Emmy for Outstanding Achievement from the Southeast Chapter of The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

“In the Path of the Storms,” which aired on Alabama Public Television in 2012, captures life along Alabama’s seafood coast before and after Hurricane Katrina.

The crew spent a long time on the coast gathering footage and finding knowledgeable folks to feature in the film.

Coastal community leaders including a FEMA translator, shrimpers, and a lifelong residents of the area, all share their experiences in “Path,” which was produced by the University of Alabama Center for Public Television and co-produced by South Mobile County artists Sheila Hagler and Peggy Denniston,

The documentary is based on the book of the same name by University of South Alabama writer-in-residence Frye Gaillard, Hagler and Denniston.

Mike Letcher executive-produced “Path,” and created it with help from Gaillard, Hagler, Denniston and many additional community collaborators.

Click here to learn more about the documentary.

CNN Travel lists Flora-bama as one of the world’s best beach bars
by Anthea Gerrie, CNN, June 7
CNN has listed the World’s 50 best beach bars and the Florabama on the Alabama / Florida state line is one of only four in the U.S. to make the list.

This list published June 7th on CNN Travel includes American beach bars;
49. Nikki Beach (Miami)
24. Margaritaville (Pensacola Beach, Florida)
17. Flora-Bama Lounge (Florida and Alabama)
11. Moonshadows (Malibu, California)

CNN Travel tells readers “the Flora-Bama has everything a beach bar needs. Live music. Wet T-shirt contests. Cold cheap beer, much loved by the solid mix of locals and out-of-towners.” The description adds “What makes Flora-Bama truly legendary, however, is the fact that it hosts the annual Interstate Mullet Toss. Flora-Bama straddles the state line of Florida and Alabama, and each April, thousands gather at the bar to party and watch…”

To read the entire list, go to

Southern Airways Express lands in Gulf Shores
by John Mullen,, June 17
The inaugural flight into Gulf Shores by Southern Airways Express landed Friday afternoon to much fanfare and champagne. The startup airline hopes to eventually have 12 flights coming into and leaving Gulf Shores per week.

To see the article, go to:

To see John Mullen’s June 13, article, which gives detailed information about the new airline service to Gulf Shores, go to:

America’s best little beach towns
by Tom Austin, Travel + Leisure, June 13
Gulf  Shores
Gulf  Shores is near miles of splendid beaches along Bon Secour National Wildlife Refuge and is a mainstay of the American seafood industry. Apart from the National Shrimp Festival every fall, the beaches are known for the strange occurrence of “jubilees,” random nights when crabs, fish and shrimp flop up on the beach and make for easy pickings.

Stay: Magnolia Springs Bed and Breakfast is a charmer with stained glass in the den, elaborate woodwork in the great hall and hearty three-course breakfasts.

Eat: Set in a circa 1897 building surrounded by Spanish moss and live oak trees, the Wash House Restaurant serves fried oyster lettuce wraps and beef spring rolls.

Travel + Leisure: Best secret beaches on earth
For entire article, go to:

Warming the Welcome – unique tourism programs aim to attract travelers to the Southeast

by Lindsey Lowe, the University of Alabama’s National Alumni Association, Summer 2013
When Patrick Brian Miller was 12 years old, he visited Williamsburg, Va., and bought a novel that told the story of an archaeologist who traveled back to the Colonial era in Williamsburg. The novel, Nicholson Street, gave the town a whole new dimension for Miller, one that existed both in front of his eyes and on the pages of the book. It wasn’t just a trip for him—it was an experience that gave him a taste of something, something that seemed a lot like magic.

In major tourist destinations, like Chicago, New York City or Los Angeles, enchantment twinkles under the bright lights and across Broadway stages. But there’s a different kind of magic that dances in the humidity past the Mason-Dixon Line, and more and more people are coming to find it. While rural Southeastern towns may not be the first must-sees on most people’s travel lists, times are a changin’. The tourism industry is expanding quickly in the region, where, like Miller, travelers are discovering places that reward those who knock on their doors with overflowing charm and character, a glass of almost-too-sweet tea, and something worth writing home about.

Stories of the South
Miller never forgot his epiphany in Williamsburg, though he may not have called it that at the time. Then, when he was 15 years old, he visited Cahawba, the first capital of Alabama. At one time a thriving antebellum river town, it transitioned to a ghost town shortly after the Civil War. “The quiet mystery of those ruins seeped into my soul,” he said.

In 2009, he completed a short story born from that visit called “The Last Confession,” set in Cahawba, with a plot that gives a scary twist to the historic site. Miller thought that readers might like the chance to find out more about the setting, and perhaps visit there, so he suggested to his publisher that they develop an online tourism guide with websites that showcase the real town, where today historians and archaeologists are working to uncover its past and create an interpretive park.

It seemed that people did want to see the story’s town—that first guide garnered a good bit of media coverage—and Miller thought he might be on to something. Since nothing else like it already existed, he founded the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative (SELTI) to give those who enjoy literature the opportunity to find out more about the Southeastern spots they read about, and a way to breathe the air there for themselves.

Through SELTI, Miller develops online guides to accompany various books, directing readers to websites about the place or places they just experienced in fiction. Authors can, in turn, link to those on their blogs and websites. And so far, two novels with guides actually printed inside have been published by SELTI—Blind Fate, written by Miller, and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise: Interactive Tourism Edition. As more and more readers switch to portable devices like Kindles, the economic impact of having tourism guides included in e-books will become increasingly important, said Miller. Readers can simply click the links at the end to learn more about the locations, and some may follow up with an in-person visit. “If readers connect emotionally with characters in a story, then they are also likely to connect emotionally with the places where that story takes place,” he reasoned.

Not only does SELTI promote the real places where stories are set, but it also encourages authors to write novels set in real places, a genre Miller calls tourism fiction. Remembering his visit to Cahawba, he said, “These are intriguing experiences, and I would like to inspire other writers to generate those types of experiences in many attractions around the South.” Cities and states can do their parts by attracting authors to visit and write about them, he added.

For the entire article, go to:

DeSoto State Park’s Mountain Inn restaurant re-opens
The Mountain Inn Restaurant at the DeSoto State Park Lodge will re-open Fri., June 21. The lodge received damage from a tornado on March 18. Repair work still continues, but they are able to open the main dining room, the DeSoto Room and the Canyon Rooms of the Mountain Inn Restaurant for sit-down dining and meeting space.

For more information, call DeSoto State Park Lodge at 256-845-5380.

22 Alabama museums offer free admission to active duty military, reserves this summer
by Leada Gore,, June 12
The National Endowment of the Arts, Blue Star Families and the Department of Defense are working with more than 2,000 museums to offer free admission to active duty military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve members and their families, through the Blue Star Museums program.
More than 2,000 museums, including 22 in Alabama, are offering free admission now through Labor Day.

In Alabama participating museums include: Alabama Veterans Museum in Athens; Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University; Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and McWane Science Center in Birmingham; Gaineswood National Historic Landmark in Demopolis; Fendall Hall Historic House Museum in Eufaula; City of Foley Museum Archives and Model Train Exhibit; United States Army Aviation Museum at Fort Rucker; Magnolia Grove in Greensboro; Fort Morgan State Historic Site and Alabama Historical Commission in Gulf Shores; Pond Spring, the home of General Joe Wheeler in Hillsboro; Confederate Memorial Park in Marbury; History Museum of Mobile and Mobile Museum of Art; Alabama State Capitol, Alabama Historical Commission, Freedom Rides Museum, Alabama Historical Commission and Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts; Old Cahawba Archaeological Park in Orrville; Fort Mims Restoration Association in Stockton; Paul W. Bryant Museum and Tuscaloosa Museum of Art: Home of the Westervelt Collection; and Belle Mont Mansion in Tuscumbia.

Military ID is required for free admission. Up to five family members can also visit the museum free if accompanied by military member.

To read the article, go to:

Montgomery to host 2013 Southeastern Regional Series Capital of Dreams Criterium and Road Race
Monday, June 17, 2013
The City of Montgomery and the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) have partnered to sponsor the first Capital of Dreams Criterium and Road Race to take place June 22 and 23, in Montgomery. Professional, amateur and youth athletes will compete in these races.

The race is part of the 2013 Southeastern Regional Series that includes races in Albany, GA; Asheville, NC; Knoxville, TN and Greenville, SC. The series is organized by Smart Start Cycling and sanctioned by USA Cycling. Cyclists will compete for a $10,000 purse over two days. Between 300 and 400 competitors are anticipated to come to Montgomery to compete in both the criterium and the road race.

Montgomery’s Riverfront Facilities Superintendent Tom Pierce emphasizes the spectator appeal of this race: “This is a great opportunity for the city of Montgomery to host an event of this kind. Nothing like this has ever been done here before. It has the potential to grow into a major sporting event and provide a substantial economic impact for the city as well as provide the citizens with an opportunity to see a one of a kind event that is fun and exciting to watch.”

The spectator friendly criterium race will begin on Saturday, June 22 at 9 AM. Cyclists will compete to see how many laps each competitor can complete within a set time limit, which results in an intensely competitive, fast race. The 1.54 mile course will begin and end on Dexter Avenue taking riders around the State Capitol building. Recommended viewing spots are in shaded areas along Dexter Avenue or at the Irish Bred Pub. The women’s professional race will begin at 2:40 PM and men’s professional race will begin at 3:40.

The road race will be 39.96 mile course in Pike Road, Alabama which begins at 8 AM on Sunday, June 23. Youth, amateur, masters and professional level athletes will participate in this race.

Registration for the event is open until 5 PM Eastern on June 20, 2013.

For more information and registration, go to:

Remember to vote for Tuscaloosa in Benjamin Moore’s “Paint what matters” contest
Tuscaloosa is the only Alabama city in Benjamin Moore’s “Paint what matters” contest. If they win, Benjamin Moore Paints will help with a revitalization project on their “main street”. You may vote once a day until June 30.
To cast your vote, go to:

Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism opens Aug. 18, 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.

Nominations for the Tourism Awards are now open. Please use this link to nominate a tourism professional:
The last day for nominations is June 21.
For information and registration, go to:

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:

Cullman looking for full-time tourism director
Degree is preferred but not mandatory, with at least 5 years of tourism experience. Some travel required. Salary is commensurate with knowledge of industry.

No resumes will be accepted after June 25.

Please remit applications to: Attention Tourism, PO Box 1104, Cullman, AL 35056-1104
*No emailed copies accepted

Travel South announces information on Showcases
Travel South this week provided more information on both their International and Domestic Showcase. The International Showcase will have an additional ½ day of appointments and the Domestic Showcase will include state booth giveaways to attract more traffic to state isles.

Registration is currently underway for the International Showcase held in Nashville, Dec. 3-6. This will be the second International Showcase. Last year the Alabama destinations attending had constant appointments with top tour companies from around the world.

New for this year, there will be 2 full days of appointments instead of just a day and a half. This will allow attendees to have even more appointments.

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

Travel South has announced the schedule and registration date for Travel South Domestic Showcase in Charleston, WV Feb. 23-26, 2014.   The registration will begin after Labor Day.

New this coming year for Domestic showcase, each state booth will only have appointments on Monday with Tuesday as a day for giveaways to encourage tour operators to visit the isle even though they didn’t have an appointment.
For CVB, attractions and hotels that attend showcase, your booths will continue to have scheduled appointments both days.

Registration for Both Showcases
For either the international showcase or the domestic showcase, suppliers can a share table and appointment books to decrease the cost and have a better selling experience with tour operators.
To register for either showcase, go to

For more information on the domestic showcase, contact Rosemary Judkins, 334-242-4493. For more information on the international showcase, contact Grey Brennan, 334-242-4459.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events
Aug 4-7 Alabama Motorcoach/Georgia Motorcoach Operators/South Central Motorcoach Association, Birmingham
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 & January 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

57 Alabama nominations posted in National Geographic Map Project, more needed
The first part of the U.S. Gulf Coast States Geotourism website and mapguide project was kicked off the end of May with a nomination process until July 15. So far there has been widespread support from the Alabama tourism industry with fifty-eight points of interest in Alabama submitted and posted as nominated sites or events.

Residents, community organizations, tourism stakeholders and/or local businesses are asked to self nominate their sites for potential inclusion in the interactive Geotourism-themed program being conducted as part of the National Geographic Brand.

The Alabama sites nominated and posted as of June 17 are:
Alabama Museum of Natural History; Alabama Offshore Artificial Reef Zone; Alabama’s Inshore Artificial Reef Habitats; Anniston Museum of Natural History; Annual Arts and Crafts Festival; Annual Jubilee Festival; Battle-Friedman House and Gardens; Burnt Corn Creek Park;
Captain Jack Charters; Chattahoochee Indian Heritage Center; Chattahoochee Trace; Cherokee Rock Village; Cleburne County Mountain Center; Coleman Lake, Talladega National Forest, Shoal Creek; Confederate Memorial Park, 437 County Rd 63, Marbury, AL 36051; Downtown Fairhope; F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum – Montgomery; Fendall Hall; Five Points South, Birmingham – Restaurants; Fort Mitchell Historic Site; Fort Morgan State Historic Site;
Frog Pond USA; Gaineswood National Historic Landmark; Gees Bend on the Alabama River;
Gulf State Park; Gulf State Park Lakeside Cabins and Cottages; Guntersville Museum; Hank Williams Trail; Hart House; Heart of Dixie Railroad Museum; History Museum of Mobile; Jacksonville State University’s Planetarium; LaGrange College Site Park and Pioneer Village; Largest Craft Mall in West Alabama – the makers market; Little River Canyon Center; Magnolia Grove Historic Site; Mildred Westervelt Warner Transportation Museum; Mobile Mardi Gras; Moundville Archaeological Park; Mount Cheaha State Park; Old Alabama Town; Olde Towne Daphne; Paul W. Bryant Museum; Pickens County Alabama Courthouse; Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail; Shape Note Singing in Henagar; Alabama Spanish Fort; Studios of Muscle Shoals, Hit Recording Capital of the World; The Boll Weevil Statue; The Hank Aaron Childhood Home and Museum; The Quilters of Gee’s Bend; The Tuscaloosa Farmers’ Market at Tuscaloosa River Market; Tuscaloosa Amphitheater; Tuscaloosa River Market; Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site; Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site

Additional sites may have been submitted, but not yet posted to
Nominations are being accepted through July 15th.Alabama attractions that are unique, such as local restaurants, wildlife and scenic trails, bed and breakfasts, historic attractions, fishing destinations, museums, artist galleries as well as events are encouraged to self nominate. To nominate your site, go to

For more information on Alabama nominations, contact Grey Brennan of the Alabama Tourism Department. or 334-242-4459

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: