Dexter Avenue Baptist Church part of world-wide ‘Let Freedom Ring Celebration’
• Dutch journalist highlights Alabama on new Civil Rights website after visit to state
• Alabama’s best rooms with a view: skydining over Muscle Shoals
• Last chance to visit: Sequoyah Caverns closes Sept. 3
• Documentary with Elkmont ties wins Sidewalk award
• Birmingham Zoo at the forefront of African bull elephant research with first-of-its-kind cohabitation exhibit
• International air traffic to U.S. up four percent
• Sign-up for International Showcase in Nashville
• Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Dexter Avenue Baptist Church part of world-wide ‘Let Freedom Ring Celebration’

The Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church will be one of the featured sites for a global bell-ringing ceremony at 2 p.m. on Wed, Aug. 28 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech.”

The downtown Montgomery church is the only church where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., served as senior pastor. Participating in the bell-ringing ceremony will be several church members who attended the church when King was pastor from 1954 to 1960.

The global bell-ringing is the culmination of a program of events that started at the King Center in Atlanta and continues this week in Washington, D.C. The bell-ringing will take place a half-century to the minute after Dr. King delivered his historic address.
More information on all the commemoration activities can be found online at:

Dutch journalist highlights Alabama on new Civil Rights website after visit to state

A new Dutch language website centered on Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech has been launched. The site from journalist and author Kris Clerckx was developed in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in Brussels.

Grey Brennan of the Alabama Tourism Department, along with the tourism offices in Montgomery, Selma, Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, coordinated Clerckx’s visit to Alabama.

The website highlights ten American cities, half of which are in Alabama. Featured cities include Birmingham, Greensboro, Montgomery, Selma and Tuscaloosa.

To read Alabama’s sections of the website, go to:

The website also includes a series of videos that center around historical Civil Rights events in Alabama.

The videos can be seen at

Alabama’s best rooms with a view: skydining over Muscle Shoals
by Tamara Ikenberg,, Aug. 26

At the Marriot Shoals Hotel and Spa, you can look into the eyes of a young, innocent Donny Osmond, and look down on Florence from a restaurant spinning slowly in the sky…but not at the same time.

Young Donny, Cher, Art Garfunkel, and dozens of other iconic musicians who have recorded at Muscle Shoals’ legendary studios, appear in framed photos decorating Swampers Grille on the hotel’s first floor.

And the vast, bird’s eye view of Wilson Dam, The Patton Island Bridge, Riverview Park and the hotel itself, comes from the hotel’s 360 Grille.

Like its name implies the revolving restaurant on top of the 300-foot Renaissance Tower gives you a full panorama of Florence and the Tennessee River.

The hotel’s guest rooms all have private balconies providing perfectly good views, but nothing beats the high of surveying the scene from the 360 Grille. The restaurant rotates very slowly. It will not make you sky-sick.

To read the entire article, go to:

Last chance to visit: Sequoyah Caverns closes Sept. 3
Fort Payne, Aug. 7

The general public has until Sept. 3, to visit Sequoyah Caverns and Ellis Homestead. Known for its “looking glass lakes”, Sequoyah Caverns is located in Wills Valley at the foot of Sand Mountain in northeast Alabama and has attracted thousands of families, school groups, and travelers for the past 49 years.

Unlike other caves, Sequoyah Caverns is full of “looking glass lakes”, which reflect the thousands of intricate rock formations and nature’s magnificent underground creations. Along with the reflection pools, the Caverns also feature towering stalagmites, waterfalls, and writings on the walls dating back to the early 1800s. The attraction was named Attraction of the Year in 2006 by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. In 2010, it was rated the #1 thing to do in Alabama by and was inducted into the North Alabama Tourism Hall of Fame.

A trip to Sequoyah Caverns and Ellis Homestead is more than just a visit to a cave. Along with exploring the caverns, the grounds also contain a picnic pavilion and a farm animal corral, as well as offer fishing and hiking the pristine Lookout Point Trail to a view of the beautiful valley below. Other activities include mining for multicolored gems as cool mountain water flows down a hand-made wooden trough and watching farm animals such as oxen, sheep, goats, and horses, milling around the property. A gift shop is also located on the grounds where a variety of souvenirs, handcrafted items, and light concessions can be found.

James Ellis and his family moved to this homestead in 1841 and, over the years, acquired and cultivated hundreds of acres of woodlands. Today, the direct descendents of James Ellis still live here and welcome visitors to the 58 beautiful acres set aside for all to enjoy.

The Cavern is named for Chief Sequoyah, creator of the Cherokee alphabet, who taught his writing system in the Willstown community during the movement of the Cherokee Nation to Oklahoma. A historical marker in his recognition stands in Valley Head, only a few miles from the Caverns.

Sequoyah Caverns and Ellis Homestead is located off I-59 north of Valley Head and is open Monday-Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. with guided tours available daily. Admission is $15.95 per adult, $8.95 per child, and free for children three years and under. Group Tours and Wild Cave Adventures are also available.

For more information, call 800-843-5098.

Documentary with Elkmont ties wins Sidewalk award
by Catherine Godbey,, Aug. 26

A short documentary profiling Tasia Malakasis won the Alan Hunter Best Alabama Film award at the Sidewalk Film Festival on Sunday night.
he nine-minute “Tasia & the Cheese Revolution” directed by Becky Beamer showcases Malakasis, the owner and operator of Belle Chevre, an Elkmont-based goat cheese company. The documentary premiered on Sunday at the Alabama School of Fine Arts black box theater.

A screening of the film will take place at the Belle Chevre creamery’s grand opening on Oct. 12, 2013. The store is located in downtown Elkmont.”
The 15th annual festival in Birmingham showcased more than 160 feature-length and short documentary and narrative films.

To read the entire article, go to:

Birmingham Zoo at the forefront of African bull elephant research with first-of-its-kind cohabitation exhibit
by Ana Rodriguez,, Aug. 26

The male elephant is enormous, intelligent, strong and sociable. Male elephants are larger than their female counterparts. At most zoos, adult male elephants have been kept in solitary exhibits, where as in the wild they would leave the family unit around 15 years of age and associate in small groups of other males.

Now visitors can see an all male elephant herd, much as it would occur in the wild.
The Birmingham, Alabama Zoo has become the first AZA accredited facility to successfully replicate an all male African elephant herd. The four African bull elephants are part of the zoo’s “Trails of Africa” exhibit.

With over 500,000 visitors a year, the Birmingham Zoo in Alabama ranks among the top attractions in the south.

Read about the these amazing elephants in this story from a Birmingham reporter at:

International air traffic to U.S. up four percent

According to the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, international air traffic to/from the U.S. totaled 72.8 million passengers through May 2013, up almost four percent from the May 2012 year-to-date period.

Europe was the biggest overseas region with 26 percent of all international traffic. The number one international foreign airport was London Heathrow with five million passengers, May 2013 Year-to-Date.

The Alabama Tourism Department has an in-market Tourism Representative in the United Kingdom to help boost the state’s share of the European tourism market. Industry partners may contact Della Tully of Global Travel Marketing by email at or by telephone at 011-44-208-339-6122. To see the report from the Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, go to:

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,

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events
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: