Alabama Tourism Department News May 7, 2014

  • Montgomery named Best Historic City
  • Alabama Scenic River Trail announces Tallapoosa River expansion
  • USA TODAY: Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q celebrates the South
  • Chicago Tribune: Alabama musical trail perfect for drifting cowboys
  • Mobile Bay featured in tourism fiction contest
  • ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ enters digital age
  • Dauphin Island is on 10Best / USA TODAY Readers’ Choice nominations list
  • Hot and Hot Tomato Salad returns to the menu
  • Frank Stitt: ‘This just sort of makes me want to go back and to try harder’
  • Huntsville touts growing craft beer, food truck scenes in new tourism campaign
  • 5 Free Things: Fresh vibe bringing life to Birmingham
  • Montgomery Welcomes International Food, Wine & Travel Writers
  • Next stop on the Creek Heritage Trail to be unveiled
  • Travel South International Showcase registration now open
  • Director of Marketing & Public Relations position available
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Montgomery named Best Historic City
By Scott Johnson, Montgomery Advertiser, May 1

All the clicking has paid off. Montgomery is the Best Historic City in the United States, according to an online poll by travel website 10Best sponsored by USA TODAY.

The city beat out 19 other cities, including heavy historical hitters Boston, Philadelphia and New Orleans after 28 days of voting.

For its part, Montgomery was in on the very beginnings of two of the most important events in U.S. history, the civil rights movement and the Civil War. It also was the site of the first flight school, which was started by the Wright Brothers, and the nation’s first electric streetcars.

“There is just so much in Montgomery that has changed the world, and oftentimes people don’t realize that about (the city),” said Meg Lewis, director of tourism and special projects for the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce’s convention and tourism bureau.

They will now, however, and Lewis said the distinction will help bring more people to the city.

“When they come, of course, they spend money on our hotels, they eat dinner with us, in addition to learning about us and having a great time. It has a huge economic impact on the city,” she said.

Mayor Todd Strange noted that residents were urged to “vote early and often” because the website accepted multiple votes. People took up the cause, sharing the link on social media and urging people to keep voting.

It was a back-and-forth fight, but Montgomery beat out second-place finisher Annapolis, Md., where the statehouse served as the nation’s Capitol in 1783 and 1784.

Strange said the city will get as much mileage from the designation as it can.

“That will be the degree of difference when it comes to conventions and organizations selecting to come to Montgomery, Alabama,” Strange said.

City historian Mary Ann Neeley said the accolade is greatly deserved for a number of reasons, the most notable being Montgomery’s ties to the Civil War and civil rights.

The order to fire the shot that started the Civil War was sent from Montgomery, and nearly 100 years later, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat, triggering the world-changing Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Neeley acknowledged that while the city’s history is rich, it also sometimes has been ugly, with practices such as slavery and Jim Crow laws playing significant roles.

“I think so much of the negative we have overcome, and I think we can continue to work toward becoming a more equitable community,” Neeley said.

Lewis said the conflict the city has seen is one of the reasons people are drawn to it.

“People want to see where this city is now and what can be learned from the lessons that we have learned. And we find that when they visit the city, they do understand that it is possible to move forward in a positive way,” Lewis said.

To read the article online, go to:

Alabama Scenic River Trail announces Tallapoosa River expansion

The Alabama Scenic River Trail – one of the nation’s longest river trails spanning 650 miles from northeast Alabama to the Gulf of Mexico – has added the Alabama portion of the Tallapoosa River.

This new 200-plus mile segment includes 13 primitive campsites donated by Alabama Power, including four portages allowing paddlers to walk their canoes or kayaks around the four Alabama Power dams on the Tallapoosa.

“The portages and the campsites open up probably the most spectacular part of the river as far as unencumbered, beautiful, stunning paddling,” said Jim Felder, executive director of the ASRT.

“It’s critical for paddlers to have campsites they can legally use, and this gives people a place to camp who otherwise would have no place to overnight while traversing the Tallapoosa,” said ASRT founder and president Fred Couch.

The expansion of the trail is seen as an economic development and tourism opportunity, said Shane Harris, Tallapoosa County coordinator for the Alabama Cooperative Extension System.

“Our goal is to create an informational brochure-map detailing these river trails and the different runs people can explore so when they do these trips, they will have more information and be safe,” Harris said.

“Bald eagles, deer, turkey, otters – they’re in abundance,” said Harold Banks, a 66-year-old veteran paddler from Dadeville who has travelled the entire Tallapoosa. “It’s a wilderness experience almost any stretch you choose to travel.”

Tallapoosa broadens ASRT to more than 3,000 miles
Felder said the Tallapoosa River is a microcosm of the ingredients that make Alabama rivers unique.

“The Tallapoosa River embodies some of the very best of all the aspects of the rivers of Alabama, including quality of water, quality of the experience, the beauty of the surroundings. The fact you can go so many miles through this very history-rich region and not see anything but eagles and fish is really spectacular,” Felder said.

Since its inception in 2008, ASRT officials have broadened the overall trail to include 3,000 miles of creeks and other water sources in Alabama. The ASRT has been designated a National Recreation Trail and one of several National Water Trails.
For more information on the Alabama Scenic River Trail, visit


USA TODAY: Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q celebrates the South

By Larry Olmsted, USA TODAY, May 1

Most good barbecue “joints” have a colorful history, and Jim ‘N Nick’s is no exception. It started out with a father (Jim) and son (Nick) team converting a dry-cleaners in Birmingham. That was 1985, and fewer than 30 years later, Jim ‘N Nick’s Bar-B-Q is a beloved chain with over 30 locations in seven states. Most are clustered in the Carolinas, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Florida, but there are a couple of outposts in Colorado, with two more on the way. They can be found in heavily touristic spots like Charleston, Hilton Head, Destin and Nashville, or off the beaten path, like Cullman and Jasper. In most cases they are large sit-down restaurants that also offer drive-throughs, serving lunch, dinner and take-out.

The first built-from scratch Jim ‘N Nick’s appeared in 1999 and now there are about 10 of these identical units, as close as the chain comes to having an identifiable look and feel. It is a large bustling restaurant with waiter service, brick walls, wooden floors and high ceilings with exposed beams. It’s modern rustic with a professional feel, more like Kansas City’s Jack Stack than any other barbecue place I’ve been to. There is a separate full bar where you can eat or drink, with an impressive slate of more than 30 small-batch ryes and bourbons. This is notable because it fits an overall theme at Jim ‘N Nick’s, which is celebrating all things edible and Southern.

“Are we fine dining? Fast casual?” asked founding son Nick Pihakis. “We don’t fit any industry model. We prepare everything from scratch every day in every location; we don’t have a freezer in any of our restaurants. We process our own pigs. We call it ‘Pit to Plate.'” Whatever the secret, it’s a formula that no one else in the world of barbecue has been able to replicate at this scale, with so many large high-volume restaurants offering consistency and loyalty. After my recent visit I understood why.

Jim ‘N Nick’s offers every major style of smoked meat including Eastern Carolina chopped pork (with vinegar and pepper sauce), classic pulled pork shoulder, dry rubbed beef brisket, hot links of pork sausage, chicken, turkey, ham and both regular and baby back pork ribs. Most come with two sides from a list of 13. There’s a lot to process, and while I fortunately tried a lot of things, these are just the highlights.

Both styles of ribs come neither wet nor dry but rather sort of glazed, and were perfectly cooked, the standouts among the traditional meats. Most of the meats are available as sandwiches, but the pulled pork or Carolina chopped pork are the best options. Brisket was the weak link, perhaps explaining why there are no outposts in Texas, too tender and almost crumbly rather than succulent. All come accompanied with two house-made barbecue sauces, original and habanero, both tomato-based but thin for the genre and both appreciably better than most restaurant sauces. However, once Nick told me many customers mix them half and half, I found something better than the sum of its parts.

The very first “must” is the cheese biscuits, a signature Nick described as “crack for our customers,” which are really, really good and can’t be over-ordered because they are crazy cheap and you can take them home. The Hot Chicken is a very spicy but standout app, especially if you haven’t had it in Nashville (almost impossible to find elsewhere), but the can’t-miss starter is the Southern Sampler, which combines the hummus, pimento cheese and bacon jam, all spreads – and all really good – with cornbread biscuits.

In the world of barbecue, Jim ‘N Nick’s is oversized in every respect – except prices – and as a result has some misses but far more hits. It’s hard to imagine a guest who won’t find something to their liking — no matter how versed you are in barbecue or regional fare, there is bound to be something intriguing. It helps that they bridge the gap from big chain to homey, and that behind the scenes, owners are heavily involved in preserving and improving food traditions, as members of several initiatives, including Fatback Collective, trying to reengineer the system of hog farming back to sustainable heritage breeds. It may not be the kind of barbecue temple you drive 800 miles and wait on line to eat at, but when you are near a Jim ‘N Nick’s, it hits the spot.

To read the entire article, go to:

Chicago Tribune: Alabama musical trail perfect for drifting cowboys
By Pamela Selbert,, April 29

Stretching from Andalusia north to Birmingham are 180 Alabama miles that likely should be traveled by serious country music fans. It’s the Hank Williams Trail, established by the state in 2006 to mark major events in the country legend’s short life and career with his Drifting Cowboys.

The trail generally follows U.S. Highway 31, which the singer/songwriter traveled, and newer Interstate Highway 65.

At the south end, in Andalusia, travelers will find Pirate Graphics at 120 E. Three Notch St., but in 1944 it was John Wright’s auto garage, where Williams married Miss Audrey Sheppard, the positive and pained inspiration for so many songs.

Half an hour north is Georgiana, where Williams and his mother lived from 1930 to 1934. Williams met a black street singer there named Rufus “Tee-Tot” Payne, who taught him to play guitar. The Hank Williams Sr. Boyhood Home & Museum (127 Rose St.) displays one of his guitars, photos, records, clothing and more. The museum also hosts the annual Hank Williams Festival with music and food June 6-7. (Info: 334-376-2396,

That’s not the only museum. Go on to Montgomery, where Williams lived in 1937-48 and where his career began, and you’ll find the Hank Williams Museum (118 Commerce St.). It displays 17 of his Nudie suits, many awards and the 1952 Cadillac in which he died en route to a show in Ohio. (Info: 334-262-3600,

The list of significant spots extends to Birmingham and the Redmont Hotel (2101 Fifth Ave.), where Williams spent his last night, Dec. 31, 1952.

To read the article online, go to:,0,6920416.story

Mobile Bay featured in tourism fiction contest

Mobile Bay is being featured in an innovative tourism fiction contest sponsored by the Alabama Tourism Department and the Southeastern Literary Tourism Initiative. The contest is challenging authors to compose short stories set in real Mobile Bay tourism attractions. The winning story will be published online at SELTI with a photo tourism guide showing readers how to visit the real attraction and other nearby Mobile Bay attractions. The winner will be presented with a $500 prize from the Alabama Tourism Department.

“We are so excited for the next SELTI contest to feature the Mobile Bay area in south Alabama,” said Patrick Miller, founder of SELTI and author of the tourism novel Blind Fate. “Short stories are a great way to introduce the area’s attractions.” Miller believes these types of contests can help attract tourists from other states into Alabama. The deadline for the Mobile Bay SELTI Tourism Writing Contest is May 31. There is no entry fee. Writers can obtain the full rules and guidelines by visiting

“Mobile has long inspired stories, tales and anecdotes that have been passed along from generation to generation,” said Stacy Hamilton, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for the Mobile Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We love this innovative approach to fostering aspiring writers while showcasing the delightful, quirky, historic and beautiful attractions that have made Mobile the belle of the Gulf Coast.”

“The Eastern Shore of Mobile Bay is a great place to stage a story or poem about the Mobile Bay area,” said Liz Roberts, Tourism Director for the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce. “We are excited to promote this contest and we will be delighted to post the top ten entries about the Eastern Shore on our Tourism page.”

Popular e-readers like Kindles and iPads will allow readers to click on tourism links from inside the short story and instantly browse informational websites with photos about the places in the story.

“Readers will even be able to use their Kindles or iPads to book hotel rooms at the Battle House in Mobile or the Grand Hotel in Point Clear via links in the story,” said Miller. “This contest can also inspire tourism novels covering more Mobile Bay attractions in the future.”
“I enjoyed the challenge of writing with a focus on a particular location, but I wanted to take it to the next level,” said Kathryn Lang, winner of the 2012 Inaugural SELTI Writing Contest. A panel of University of Alabama English professors chose her short story “Digging Up Bones” from among four finalists that promoted Moundville Archaeological Park in the first SELTI contest. “My experience with social media and tourism were the perfect fit – and I looked for new ways to make the stories more than just a focus on a location and more of an interaction with that location. Without the SELTI contest, the idea for the Scouting Out Adventure series – and the concept of interactive youth oriented books – would not have developed.”

Lang, a University of South Alabama graduate, joined SELTI recently as executive director and is also preparing to launch her Scouting Out Adventure novel series that begins on the Alabama Gulf Coast and travels up the state. Lang gives talks on tourism fiction to organizations and groups.

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ enters digital age

Montgomery Advertiser, April 28

Harper Lee has signed on for Scout, Boo Radley and Atticus Finch to enter the electronic age.

Filling one of the biggest gaps in the e-library, “To Kill a Mockingbird” will become available as an e-book and digital audiobook on July 8, HarperCollins Publishers announced. Lee, in a rare public statement, cited a “new generation” of fans in agreeing to the downloadable editions of her Pulitzer Prize-winning classic.

“I’m still old-fashioned. I love dusty old books and libraries,” Lee, who turned 88 recently, said through her publisher. “I am amazed and humbled that ‘Mockingbird’ has survived this long. This is ‘Mockingbird’ for a new generation.”

The announcement came almost exactly a year after Lee sued her former literary agent, Samuel Pinkus, in order to regain rights to her novel. Lee, who lives in her native Alabama and has been in frail condition, had alleged she was “duped” into signing over the copyright.

The lawsuit was settled in September.  Lee’s attorney, Gloria Phares, said at the time that the case had been resolved to the author’s satisfaction, with “her copyright secured to her.”

With digital holdouts from J.K. Rowling to Ray Bradbury changing their minds over the past few years, Lee and her novel had ranked with J.D. Salinger and his “The Catcher in the Rye” as a missing prize for e-book fans. First published in July 1960, “Mockingbird” has sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and still sells more than 1 million copies a year, according to HarperCollins. It was adapted into a 1962 movie of the same name that featured an Oscar-winning performance by Gregory Peck as Finch, the courageous Alabama attorney who defends a black man against charges that he raped a white woman.

“Mockingbird” remains a standard text in classrooms and is a popular choice for citywide and national reading programs. Lee never published another book, which only seemed to add to the novel’s appeal, and she has for decades resisted interviews and public appearances.

“Every home has a dog-eared copy of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird,’ and now readers will be able to add this favorite book to their digital libraries,” Michael Morrison, president and publisher of HarperCollins U.S. General Books Group and Canada, said in a statement. “Although it’s Nelle Harper Lee’s birthday, she is giving readers around the world the gift of being able to read or listen to this extraordinary story in all formats.”

The new audiobook will be a downloadable edition of the existing CD narrated by Sissy Spacek.
Harper also is releasing an “enhanced” e-book that will feature additional material. Spokeswoman Tina Andreadis said the extra features had not yet been determined.

With “Mockingbird” now set for e-release, major works still unavailable in digital editions include “The Catcher in the Rye,” “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude.”

To read the article online, go to:

Dauphin Island is on 10Best / USA TODAY Readers’ Choice nominations list

The nominees for Best U.S. Island were announced recently.  Dauphin Island is one of 20 finalists competing for a spot in the winners list.

Prior campaigns have seen a full range of social media influencers: a US Senator, a Governor, a mayor, and of course those already loyal to nominee.  Dauphin Island would appreciate the support of Alabama during its campaign to win.

Voting ends Mon., June 2, at 10:59 a.m.  You can rock the vote at:  Nominee supporters can vote once per day, per category.

To follow live voting action, see the full list of nominees for Best U.S. Island, and discover the most active campaigns for the award, search #10BestChoice on Twitter (we are @10Best).  You can also find us on Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.

Hot and Hot Tomato Salad returns to the menu
By Bob Carlton,, May 2

For Chris Hastings, May 1, feels a lot like the opening day of turkey season.

“There’s a lot of excitement, a lot of anticipation, a lot of preparation, a lot of making sure everything is just perfect,” Hastings says.

But the Birmingham chef and avid outdoorsman is talking not about turkeys, but about tomatoes – and more specially, the arrival of the Hot and Hot Tomato Salad on the menu at his Hot and Hot Fish Club, an annual rite of spring that is greeted with much celebration among customers of the restaurant.

“We shoot for May 1, as our goal, but what drives that process is the tomatoes,” Hastings says. “Every year, it can change. Because it’s agriculture, Mother Nature kind of sets the time.

The signature dish of spring and summer at Hot and Hot Fish Club, the tomato salad is served as an appetizer and features a stack of thick and luscious tomato slices that are tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette and then meticulously layered with marinated field peas and corn kernels, trimmed with fried okra, and topped with applewood-smoked bacon and chive aioli.

It is a mainstay on the Alabama Tourism Department’s list of “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die,” and has been served at Hot and Hot since Hastings and his wife, Idie, opened the restaurant in 1995.

Last year, though, in honor of the Alabama Gulf seafood industry, Hastings added a second tomato salad to the menu, an entrée featuring fresh Alabama shrimp from Dominick’s Seafood in Bayou La Batre.
The Poached Bayou La Batre Shrimp with Hot and Hot Tomato Salad entrée comes with double stacks of the traditional tomato salad, plus six head-on, lightly poached shrimp that have been peeled and tossed in fresh basil and lemon olive oil.

“Something has to be worthy of that tomato salad,” Hastings says. “And those shrimp and that tomato salad are a perfect match together.”

Both the Hot and Hot Tomato Salad appetizer and the Poached Bayou La Batre Shrimp with Hot and Hot Tomato Salad entrée will be available at the restaurant through September.

To read the entire article and see the video, go to:

Frank Stitt: ‘This just sort of makes me want to go back and to try harder’
By Bob Carlton,, May 6

Twenty minutes after Birmingham’s Highlands Bar and Grill missed out — for the sixth straight year — on winning the James Beard Foundation Award as the country’s best restaurant, Frank Stitt was already talking about how his restaurant has to keep getting better in hopes of coming back here for a seventh time.

“This just sort of makes me want to go back and to try harder and just be more inspired,” Stitt said in the lobby of the David H. Koch Theater in New York’s Lincoln Center. “I was just thinking about how this industry is so amazing to come together. Even though we’re competitors, we really like each other, we learn from each other, we get inspired by each other.

“And I think one of the great things that the Beard foundation does is that it gets us all together, and it makes us raise the bar a little bit more and more and more. So I think that’s something for us to take back with us.”
The Slanted Door, a Vietnamese restaurant that San Francisco chef Charles Phan opened about 20 years ago, won the outstanding restaurant category this year, beating Highlands, Chicago’s Spiaggia and New York’s Hearth and WD-50. Located in the Ferry Building and overlooking San Francisco Bay, the Slanted Door was previously a finalist in 2008 and 2013.

“I am such a huge fan of Charles Phan and Tony Montuano (of Spiaggia),” Stitt said “But Charles Phan is one of the hardest-working, most talented chefs. His food is some of the most exciting food. They’ve got an incredible wine program and they’ve got one of the great views in America. You have a great time when you walk in the Slanted Door, so it’s certainly well-deserved.”

Representing Highlands at the Beard Awards were Stitt and his wife Pardis, who is director of operations, as well as server Goren Avery, beverage manager Matt Gilpin and chef de cuisine Zack Redes.

“We’re a team,” Stitt said. “We’re a family. Obviously, Goren and I have worked together for over 30 years, and Matt has been with us almost 10 years, so that’s kind of an unusual relationship when you’ve worked together with people for so long. We know each other. We love being together. We have a blast just hanging out, going to restaurants and learning and having fun.”

To read the entire article, go to:

Huntsville touts growing craft beer, food truck scenes in new tourism campaign

By Steve Doyle,, April 28

A new advertising campaign is using Huntsville’s growing craft beer and food truck scenes to lure more tourists to the Rocket City.

The “Road Trip Huntsville” campaign, a grassroots effort led by Downtown Huntsville Inc. and the Huntsville-Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, is meant to appeal to people living within a two-hour drive. That would include Birmingham, Nashville and all points in between.

The tourism campaign boasts of, “30 Miles of Hiking & Biking Trails, 14 Local Food Trucks, and 8 Unique Craft Breweries Less Than 2 Hours Away.

“And we haven’t even mentioned Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment, our weekly street events, and everything else happening in Huntsville,” the ad says. “Come see for yourself – and bring your friends.” See more at

Huntsville has become Alabama’s leading craft beer hot spot, with dozens of unique local brews being produced by Back Forty, Below the Radar, Blue Pants, Brew Stooges, Old Black Bear, Rocket Republic, Salty Nut, Straight to Ale and Yellowhammer.

The local food truck scene is also exploding. An estimated 7,500 people showed up for the “Downtown Street Food Season” kickoff at A.M Booth’s Lumberyard on Friday, April 18, with some folks willing to wait in line up to an hour to sample Huntsville’s best on-the-go cuisine.

To read the article online, go to:

5 Free Things: Fresh vibe bringing life to Birmingham
By Jay Reeves, Associated Press, May 3

Alabama’s largest city is making a comeback after decades of dormancy, and there’s plenty of free stuff for visitors to see and do in the new Birmingham. Re-energized by a wave of fresh development and the emergence of a true downtown vibe, the city once called the “Pittsburgh of the South” for its steel industry is now varied enough for a family trip or a weekend getaway for couple. Interested in history or the arts? How about a tour of a worldwide broadcasting operation? Birmingham has that and more.

Civil Rights District: Visitors interested in civil rights history can pay tribute to the era on a pilgrimage to sites where headlines were made. Walk along streets where police and firefighters used dogs and fire hoses to rout demonstrators seeking equality for blacks in 1963. Stand at the spot where a Ku Klux Klan bomb went off that same year, killing four black girls inside 16th Street Baptist Church. Across from the church, sit in Kelly Ingram Park, where statues depict compelling scenes from the city’s civil rights struggles.

Birmingham Museum of Art: Billing itself as one the nation’s best regional museums, the Birmingham Museum of Art houses more than 25,000 drawings, paintings, prints, sculptures and decorative pieces from all over the world. Its painting collection includes Albert Bierstadt’s “Looking Down Yosemite Valley,” selected by The National Endowment for the Humanities as one of 40 American masterpieces.

Railroad Park: Once a trash-strewn empty lot beside train tracks, Railroad Park opened in 2010 and quickly
became a favorite gathering spot. With features including ponds, a wetlands area, a walking track and a natural amphitheater, the 19-acre park is a perfect spot to spend a few hours watching people or reading a book.

Eternal Word Television Network: Located minutes from downtown in tree-covered Irondale, Eternal Word Television Network offers weekday tours of what it calls the world’s largest religious media operation. Founded by an enterprising nun, the operation is geared toward Catholics, but anyone can see the studios and control rooms that are used to beam shows to more than 150 million TV households worldwide. The opulent Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament and Monastery is located on 400 acres about a one-hour drive away.

Birmingham Botanical Gardens: With 67 acres of land and more than two dozen unique gardens, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens is one of the most-visited free attractions in Alabama. There are roses for flower fans, a Japanese garden for Asian enthusiasts and a vegetable garden lush enough to make any home gardener green with envy.

To read this article online, go to:

Montgomery Welcomes International Food, Wine & Travel Writers

The Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau (MCVB) is excited to welcome more than 40 journalists during the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) Annual Conference May 6-10.

Thanks to a dramatic revitalization in the downtown area, Montgomery has reemerged as one of the must-see travel destinations in the South and has even recently won the USA Today Best Historic City Award.  While in town, the writers will experience some of the nation’s most significant events, sample some of the city’s most exquisite cuisine and visit some of the crown jewels of Montgomery.

“We are thrilled and honored to host these writers whose niche is writing for food, wine and hospitality. Previously this annual meeting has been held in cities such as Honolulu and Las Vegas, so we were extremely excited to be chosen and are ready to show off the best that Montgomery has to offer,” said MCVB Vice President Dawn Hathcock.

Hosting groups of this caliber generates huge returns for Montgomery. The MCVB anticipates that hosting this event will cultivate a significant amount of press coverage for the city through articles, blog posts, social media and more. This level of exposure showcases the city to a much broader audience and helps the city gain national and international recognition.

The International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) is now a global network of journalists who cover the hospitality and lifestyle fields, and the people who promote them.

Next stop on the Creek Heritage Trail to be unveiled

Sat., May 10, the Historic Chattahoochee Commission (HCC) and the Chattahoochee Indian Heritage Association will unveil five interpretive panels at the Chattahoochee Indian Heritage Center (CIHC) as part of the developing Creek Heritage Trail. The Center is located adjacent to Fort Mitchell Historical Park just south of Phenix City on Hwy. 165 in Fort Mitchell, Alabama.

A brief program providing an overview of the history and purpose of the CIHC and the Creek Heritage Trail will be held at the Fort Mitchell Historical Park Visitor’s Center at 10 a.m. EST, (9 a.m. CST). Tours of the CIHC, free to the public, will follow. Fort Mitchell is offering discounted admission to all those who attend this special event and would like to tour the fort. The panels were made possible by the generous support of the Russell County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

The Creek Heritage Trail is a major new heritage tourism resource being developed in the 18-county Chattahoochee Trace region served by the HCC. The trail will focus on regional Creek Indian culture, the causes and consequences of the Creek Wars, the saga of Creek Removal, and the transition of the Chattahoochee Valley from Creek domain to Old South heartland. The project is designed to draw national attention to this unique story, which played a pivotal role in American history, by highlighting publicly-accessible historical sites and providing new interpretive venues for the public. In addition to interpretive signage and a dedicated page on the HCC website, the Trail will eventually include a brochure guide, educational programs, and a variety of special events.

The HCC is a state agency of both Alabama and Georgia charged with promoting heritage tourism, history education, and historic preservation. For further information, contact HCC at 334-687-9755. Inquiries are welcomed by email at

Travel South International Showcase registration now open

May 1st was the first day of registration for the Travel South International Showcase and the show’s organizers report they received over 40 applications that first day.

Hosted by the Alabama Tourism Department and ten other southern states, the Travel South International Showcase will mark its 3rd year as a regional marketplace in December.  More than 100 qualified International tour operators from over 15 countries around the globe will join over 160 Southern travel suppliers in New Orleans this year.

Travel South has already announced that they anticipate their International Showcase in New Orleans will sell out quickly.  The show dates are December 1-4, 2014.

The show sold out last year.  It will sell out again this year.

Travel South has such a demand from CVBs, hotels, attractions and destination marketing organizations that want to attend, you may have only a couple of weeks to get your registration in, instead of the usual 3 months.
It is already known that suppliers from tourism destinations that have never attended before are registering this year. This means the only way they can get in is to take the place of someone who went last year.

Don’t let them take your place.  Register now.

To watch a short you tube video on the tourism marketplace that includes remarks by Tuscaloosa’s Tina Jones, go to

Travel South International supplier tables for CVBs, attractions and hotels, can contain up to 3 registrants, with a slight price break per person if the table contains the maximum 3. Here is a link for pricing:

Travel South has said preference will be given to full table registrations.  Those will be confirmed first, with tables with less than full registrations not confirmed until a later date if at all.

Register at

For more information, contact Grey Brennan, Alabama Tourism Department 334-242-4459 or Liz Bittner or David Kemp at Travel South USA , 404-231-1790.

Director of Marketing & Public Relations position available

Bellingrath Gardens and Home is seeking a dynamic, energetic, creative team member to be responsible for media relations/public relations and tourism marketing.  Candidates must have excellent communication skills, high computer proficiency and the ability to work successfully with employees, guests, media and tourism professionals.  Experience in creating comprehensive marketing programs, managing and producing social media programming and working with local, regional & national media is essential.  A degree in marketing/communications or 3-5 years experience preferred.  This is a full-time, salaried position with benefits package.    Please send resumes to Dr. William E. Barrick, Executive Director, Bellingrath Gardens and Home, 12401 Bellingrath Road, Theodore, AL  36582.
Resumes may be sent via e-mail to:

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events
May 9                          Houston Welcome Center Tourism Day
May 15                        Lanett Welcome Center Tourism Day
May 22                        Baldwin Welcome Center Tourism Day
May 23                        Grand Bay Welcome Center Tourism Day
May 29                        DeKalb Welcome Center Tourism Day
May 30                        Ardmore Welcome Center Tourism Day
July 19-22                   Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism, Auburn
Sept. 7-14                   World Leisure Congress, Mobile

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:
To subscribe to the weekly Alabama Tourism News, please contact Peggy Collins at:
Alabama Tourism Department