• Alabama Road Trips book released
    Social Media Tourism Symposium in Huntsville Nov. 6-8
    Beach chamber unveils new name, brand: Coastal Alabama Business Chamber
    Alabama’s Black Belt expected to get tourism boost from conference
    Lawrence County’s signature spring event comes to an end
    State Parks honor veterans with weekend of free admission
    Montevallo gets new bed and breakfast show ranks Robert Trent Jones Trail No. 2
    The 2013 Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat is set for Nov. 17-19
    Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

    Alabama Road Trips book released

    More than 100 cities across the state and their attractions are featured in a new book titled Alabama Road Trips.

    The colorful 144-page hardcover book was produced by The Birmingham News/Alabama Media Group in cooperation with the Alabama Tourism Department and covers the state by geographic region, starting in North Alabama and ending with the Gulf Coast.

    The book is designed as a guide for great two or three day getaways, said Lee Sentell, state tourism director. Included in the book are road trips featuring the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, the scenic beauty along the Lookout Mountain Parkway, Birmingham’s historic Five Points South neighborhood, a BCS Football Championship Tour of Tuscaloosa and Auburn, the Selma to Montgomery Civil Rights Trail, a romantic getaway to Mobile and family fun on the white sandy beaches of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

    “We have 52 great road trips in the book for travelers to enjoy, one for every week of the year. Each highlights the attractions, lodgings, restaurants and special events of an area. Travelers will also find a lot of great behind-the-scene type of advice since each of the road trips was written by one of our veteran tourism department staff members or by a local travel writer,” Sentell said.

    Pulitzer Prize-winning author Rick Bragg wrote the foreword to the book and relates his own story about trips he took with his family growing up in Alabama. The book’s cover features a vintage Cadillac cruising down Oak Street in Magnolia Springs. The vintage Cadillac can also be seen in a series of road trip inspired print ads and television commercials produced by the state tourism department.

    Alabama Road Trips is available at Books-A-Million stores across the state and online at and Alabama Road Trips can also be purchased at the Governor’s Mansion Gift Shop and at The Goathill Museum Store inside the Alabama State Capital in Montgomery. The retail price of the book is $20.


    Social Media Tourism Symposium in Huntsville Nov. 6-8

    Leaders encourage community to welcome attendees using the hashtag #SoMeT13US

    Nov. 5

    The conference that the Madison County community voted to bring to the Rocket City last spring, the Social Media Tourism Symposium, begins Wednesday, November 6 and lasts through Friday, November 8. Huntsville received close to 30,000 votes during the competition among 12 other cities across the United States to win the right to host the conference that is expected to bring hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic impact to Madison County. The hashtag used to discuss the conference on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram is #SoMeT13US.

    Three community representatives will tell the story of how Huntsville won #SoMeT13US in the first presentation of the conference entitled “The #SoMeT13US Story.” Jessica Carlton, Marketing Manager at the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB), Leslie Walker, Convention Sales Manager at the Huntsville/Madison County CVB, and Charity Stewart, Advertising and Social Media Manager at the U. S. Space & Rocket Center, have the honor of discussing how the Rocket City, Madison County and the state of Alabama pulled together to bring the conference to Huntsville.

    Judy Ryals, President/CEO of the Huntsville/Madison County CVB, expressed her gratitude to the city, county and state community for voting for Huntsville to host the Social Media Tourism Symposium.

    “It’s awe-inspiring to see what this community can do when it sets its mind to something,” Ryals said. “From round one to round four, this community stuck with us and rallied to bring this conference, its economic impact and its online exposure home to the Rocket City. We couldn’t be more grateful for our community’s support and winning effort.”

    Huntsville’s Mayor Battle was one of the biggest proponents of the campaign to bring #SoMeT13US to Huntsville and stressed the importance of the community welcoming them with open arms while they are here.

    “Huntsville is sublimely southern, extremely social, and smart in technology,” Mayor Battle said. “I encourage our citizens to take to their preferred devices and give a big southern, social, high-tech welcome to our visitors from the Social Media Tourism Symposium using the hashtag #SoMeT13US.”

    Dave Serino, the founder of the Social Media Tourism Symposium and Strategist and Educator at Think! Social Media, expressed his excitement for #SoMeT13US to come to fruition in the Rocket City.

    “We’re really excited to see this event come together,” Serino said. “The people in Huntsville have been so welcoming and supportive over the last few months – and it’s really appreciated. This is our fourth U.S. event and Huntsville has been the most enthusiastic to-date.”

    The Social Media Tourism Symposium is a conference exploring social media tools and strategies in the tourism industry. Aimed at tourism professionals looking to share ideas, network and discover opportunities using social media, #SoMeT13US is in its fourth year.

    For more information, please contact Jessica Carlton, Marketing Manager at the Huntsville/Madison County CVB, by e-mail at or by phone at 256-551-2294.

    Be sure to connect with the CVB on Facebook and Twitter for updates on what’s going on in Huntsville/Madison County, travel-related news and upcoming meetings and conference information.


    Beach chamber unveils new name, brand: Coastal Alabama Business Chamber

    by Marc D. Anderson,, Nov. 1

    The Alabama Gulf Coast Area Chamber of Commerce retired its name and long-time seagull logo on Friday morning and unveiled a new brand.

    Guided by the sun, sea and arrow pointing up, the new Coastal Alabama Business Chamber logo and branding initiative was launched in front of packed house at LuLu’s at Homeport Marina during the chamber’s monthly “First Friday Forum.”

    The effort to create a “brand that accurately embodies the momentum, the direction and bright future” of the organization was 10 months in the making, said Chamber Chairman Kevin Corcoran.

    “Last November, the board of directors engaged a task force to undergo a rebranding initiative,” Corcoran said before the unveiling. “It was obvious that the significant work of this organization over the last several years deserved, no, demanded that we consider a rebranding initiative.”

    After extensive meetings, research and community input the new brand was formed.

    “We’re all about business and community,” said Gary Gilpin, who chaired the branding and marketing task force.

    The core of the branding initiative was laid out in the chamber’s new mission statement: “We are an inclusive membership organization focused on supporting the business community and coastal Alabama at large, providing strength and opportunity to our members and progressive leadership to the community. Our goal is to support economic growth and to empower our members with the tools and resources necessary to grow and prosper.”

    Playing off the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber name in the logo are the words “I Am.”

    “Every member no matter what you do or what part of the world you’re in or what you’re doing in your business, you’re actually such an integral part of this chamber,” Gilpin said after unveiling the name. “And integral to that is this … well, everybody here they are ‘I Am.’”

    And following that one by one about a dozen chamber members stood and shouted: “I am connected.” “I am smarter.” “I am stronger.” “I am Gulf2Go App.” “I am a volunteer.” “I am tomorrow’s leader.” And “I am the future of business,” among others.

    Corcoran said the rebranding initiative is a microcosm of the chamber with members stepping up to provide skills such as research, marketing, branding, and graphic design, among other to make the effort a reality.

    “Those people donated their considerable skills and countless hours to deliver professional results,” Corcoran said. “It would’ve cost us a fortune had we tried to outsource this task. Quite frankly, we ended up with a better result with a more intimate representation of what this chamber is.”


    Alabama’s Black Belt expected to get tourism boost from conference

    by Dawn Kent Azok,, Oct. 31

    The Southeastern Outdoor Press Association has chosen Lakepoint State Park in Eufaula as the site of its 2015 annual conference, an event that will put a spotlight on Alabama’s Black Belt region.

    The Southeast’s top outdoor writers and broadcasters attend the conference, which involves a year-long promotion of the region where it is to be held.

    The conference marks a great opportunity for Alabama and especially the Black Belt to show the journalists what they have to offer, said Thomas Harris, president of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, a public-private partnership that promotes outdoor recreation and economic development in the 23-county Black Belt region.

    “What we have to show is some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities anywhere. Hunting and fishing in the Black Belt alone is a billion-dollar industry and, more important, the source of 11,000 jobs,” Harris said in a prepared statement.

    Alabama’s beat out other finalists, Tunica, Miss., and Central Florida, in its bid to host the conference. It was one of 14 proposals submitted from throughout the Southeast.

    Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association will work with the state tourism department, state parks and the city of Eufaula to plan trips around the conference and draw industry attention.

    SEOPA also will publish articles about the state and the region in its newsletter.

    Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department, said the value of the SEOPA conference is tremendous because of the state, regional and national publicity.

    About 225 people are expected to attend the conference, which will be held Oct. 14-17, 2015.

    Lakepoint State Park and Lake Eufaula, known for bass fishing and other activities, will be the center of attention for the conference.

    Other state attractions that are expected to get attention include whitewater rafting on the Chattahoochee River, canoeing the Alabama Scenic River Trail, bow, quail, hog and pheasant hunting; nature and wildlife photography; fishing the Alabama Bass Trail; and golfing on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.


    Lawrence County’s signature spring event comes to an end

    Nov. 4

    The Board of Directors of the Lawrence County Arts Council announces the Alabama Chicken and Egg Festival (ACEF) has come to an end after a nine year run. The idea of the festival hatched under Event Chairwoman Kathy Graham in 2004 when she was the president of the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce and Vicki Morese was the Executive Director of the Chamber. The first festival in 2005 attracted approximately 12,000 people and quickly became a much-loved tradition for many with nearly 20,000 in attendance at the 2013 event. “It has become increasingly difficult to coordinate and plan the event to a professional level expected from our patrons. We have outgrown our volunteer, logistic and financial resources,” stated Morese.

    In nine years, the ACEF has evolved as one of the top events in the southeastern United States. The Southeast Tourism Society named it a Top 20 Events for April 2013.

    In 2011, the Alabama Tourism Department named the festival as one of 50 must-see music festivals, and in 2012, it caught the attention of state tourism leaders again and was named one of 25 top food events. The Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association named ACEF Event Coordinator Vicki Morese Tourism Professional of the Year in 2007 and she received the Citizen of the Year award in 2011 from the Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce.

    “We are happy in what we have accomplished in just nine short years. From seeing families spend quality time together to introducing arts to the students of Lawrence County, the ACEF has had a positive impact on the Moulton community,” said Morese. “On behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you to the volunteers, sponsors, and the community for supporting the festival over the past nine years.”

    Proceeds from the ACEF benefit the Lawrence County Arts Council (LCAC), an organization dedicated to providing the communities of Lawrence County with a broad range of visual, literary, and performing arts and cultural experiences.

    For more information on the ACEF or the Lawrence County Arts Council, contact Morese at 256-905-0700.


    State Parks honor veterans with weekend of free admission

    In honor of Veterans Day, Alabama State Parks will waive the entrance fee for veterans at all of its 22 state parks November 9-11, 2013. Anyone who indicates they are a veteran will be admitted into the park day-use areas without charge. No identification will be required.

    Veterans have been leaders in the development of state parks and other public lands across the country. Several of Alabama’s state parks were developed with help from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which employed numerous veterans.

    “Our parks and public lands are places for reflection and serenity, and they stand as a tribute to those who have served our great nation,” said Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks Director. “While Alabama State Parks is still working to maintain full funding levels, it is important to honor our veterans and other partners who make our parks system possible.”

    Alabama’s 22 state parks are conveniently located throughout the state. From the mountain ranges of the north, to the beaches of Gulf State Park, recreational options abound including lodges, camping, golfing, fishing, boating, hiking, biking, swimming and much more. For more information about Alabama State Parks, visit

    In 2014, the state’s park system will celebrate a milestone — its 75th anniversary. More information about the Alabama State Parks 75th Anniversary Celebration will be posted at during the coming months. Visit the website often for lodging, camping and dining specials and event announcements.


    Montevallo gets new bed and breakfast

    by Stephanie Brumfield, Shelby County Reporter, Nov. 4

    It’s not every day that a home stays on the market for more than a year before it’s transformed into a bed and breakfast, but that is exactly what happened to a home in Montevallo.

    Formerly owned by Alabama state senator Hank Erwin, the 5,500-square-foot home was bought by husband-and-wife duo Caleb and Denise Walsh after the house had been on the market for more than a year. After renovating several rooms, the couple opened Independence Inn, bed and breakfast, on Labor Day weekend.

    The inn features four bedroom suites each with its own bathroom, as well as two kitchens, a hot tub, two large sun rooms, a porch and a large, private backyard. Rates range from $89-$109 per night, with each room named and decorated with a different theme.

    The Senator’s Room is the largest and most elaborate of the four rooms and includes a luxury master bath and breakfast nook. Another room, called “The Gazette,” is inspired by the 1950s and is decorated with newspapers.

    Morning meals, like the rooms, are also one-of-a-kind. The Walshes enjoy cooking and make gourmet breakfasts every morning for their guests, catering both the dishes and breakfast times to their guests’ needs.

    Independence Inn is located just one mile from American Village at 123 Country Hills Road, Montevallo. For booking information, call the inn at 358-8866 or book online at or

    For the entire article, go to:

  show ranks Robert Trent Jones Trail No. 2

    The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama comes in at No. 2 on Matt Ginella’s Budget ‘Buddy Trip’ destination list.

    To listen to the program, go to:


    The 2013 Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat is set for Nov. 17 – 19

    The Alabama Welcome Center Educational Retreat is set for Nov. 17 – 19, in Orange Beach. The retreat continues to be a unique opportunity to update the Welcome Center staff on organizations, attractions, accommodations and special events. The host hotel is the Hampton Inn & Suites Orange Beach.

    For registration, costs, and additional information please contact:

    Betty Wood, with the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, 251-968-9319 or e-mail


    Frances Smiley, Alabama Tourism Department, Welcome Center Supervisor, 334-202-2908 or e-mail:


    Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

    Nov. 17 – 19-Welcome Center Retreat, Gulf Shores

    Dec. 12-Welcome Centers – Open House

    Feb. 23-26, 2014-Travel South Domestic Showcase, Charleston, WV

    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:

    Alabama Tourism Department