Tourism Tuesdays August 12, 2014

  • PGA Tour event coming to Opelika course in 2015
  • Alabama Restaurant Week begins Friday
  • Great Britain’s National Rail and Alabama Tourism team up
  • Tuskegee Airmen honored amid thundering ovations
  • Top Marriott and Renaissance spas found in Alabama
  • Birmingham tops list of ‘most exciting cities in Alabama’
  • Gadsden’s Back Forty ranked one of Best Local Breweries in U.S.
  • USA TODAY 10Best: Southern beaches
  • Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce to host movie premiere
  • More than 10,000 spectators witness 150th anniversary of Battle of Mobile Bay
  • Art of Alabama Food exhibit opens in Florence
  • Alabama Tourism Department workshops
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


PGA Tour event coming to Opelika course in 2015
Montgomery Advertiser, Aug. 11

A new PGA TOUR tournament sponsored by Barbasol, the No. 1 shaving cream brand in the U.S., will debut in 2015 at the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail at Grand National near Opelika, Ala. A four-year agreement establishing the Barbasol Championship was announced today at the Alabama State Capitol by Governor Robert Bentley and representatives from the PGA TOUR and the Robert Trent Jones Trail Foundation, which will serve as the tournament host organization.

The Barbasol Championship will be held at the Grand National – Lake Course July 13-19, 2015, the same week as the British Open.

“We are excited to announce the creation of the Barbasol Championship and to present an outstanding new playing opportunity for our members beginning next season,” said PGA TOUR Commissioner Tim Finchem. “Barbasol has been a leader in the industry for more than 90 years and we are delighted to forge this new relationship with such an iconic brand. We are equally pleased to partner with the Robert Trent Jones Trail Foundation and to bring this tournament to the renowned Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and Grand National’s exceptional Lake Course.”

The Barbasol Championship will become part of the FedExCup competition, awarding 300 points to the winner.

“We are extremely pleased to be partnering with the PGA TOUR and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail,” said Tom Murray, President and CEO of Perio Inc., the parent company of Barbasol. “As we approach Barbasol’s 100th year, bringing together two of America’s most respected, iconic brands is further proof of our long-term commitment to expanding our sports partnerships.”

Grand National is one of 11 facilities of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail that now includes 26 golf courses throughout Alabama.

“Alabamians pride themselves on the beauty, hospitality and charm of our state, and we are excited to showcase that to the world with the PGA TOUR’s Barbasol Championship in the Auburn-Opelika area,” Governor Bentley said. “This event will bring tens of thousands of people, from all over the world, to see the beauty that Alabama and the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail has to offer. This is a great announcement for our state, and we look forward to welcoming the Barbasol Championshipin 2015.”

To read this article online, go to:

Alabama Restaurant Week begins Friday

Two hundred thirty-two restaurants in Alabama are preparing for the launch of Alabama Restaurant Week 2014.  The promotion by the Alabama Tourism Department is held the 10 days between Aug. 15 and Aug. 24.

The restaurants are located in 55 Alabama cities and towns and will be supported by a social media campaign coordinated through Luckie Advertising and the tourism department’s JoJo Terry. The eight Alabama Tourism Department Welcome Centers will be distributing 30,000 Alabama Restaurant Week rack cards to visitors traveling in Alabama.

In addition, many cities have their own Restaurant Week promotional material in support of the Alabama Tourism Department’s efforts.

To view participating restaurants and see their Alabama Restaurant Week specials, go to  For more information, contact Grey Brennan at

Great Britain’s National Rail and Alabama Tourism team up 
Alabama Wine Train Excursion part of the promotion to half a million UK Senior Rail consumers

Alabama Tourism Department has teamed up with National Rail in the UK to promote Alabama as a tourism destination.  In a co-op marketing campaign run by Alabama’s UK In-Market Representation firm, a holiday giveaway to Alabama is being promoted in an e-magazine sent this month to 460,000 National Rail consumers, as well as announced to 40,000 facebook users.

The giveaway, which is underway now, includes flights from London to the United States, car rental, seven nights accommodations and a trip on the Heart of Dixie Railroad’s Alabama Wine Train Excursion to Ozan Vineyards in Shelby County.  The contest ends Aug. 18.

Targeted to the Senior Railcard customer, the competition for “an amazing holiday to Alabama” includes a landing page on the senior railcard website with photos of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Dreamland BBQ, and Little River Canyon.

The copy on Alabama includes short descriptions of Huntsville, Birmingham, The Shoals, Mobile and Gulf Shores/Orange Beach with such attractions as Barber Motorsports Museum, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Dexter Ave King Baptist Church and Parsonage, Muscle Shoals recording studios, Bellingrath Gardens, USS
Alabama Battleship, and 32 miles of white sand beaches.

There is a link to, the Alabama Tourism Department’s main website.

National Rail is the overall organization of passenger rail service in Great Britain, consisting of all passenger train operating companies in that country.

Alabama’s In-Market Representation firm is Global Travel Marketing.

To view the Alabama Contest with National Railcard, go to

Tuskegee Airmen honored amid thundering ovations
By Paul Gattis,, Aug. 9

On a day when the Tuskegee Airmen were honored for their contributions to America’s war efforts dating to World War II, Charles McGee instead honored those who were honoring him.

As one of the seven airmen in attendance at a ceremony at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center’s Aviation Challenge, McGee concluded brief remarks Saturday morning by asking “all the young people” in the audience to stand.

As the children and teens dutifully stood on command, the retired Air Force colonel who flew planes in three American wars imparted a lifetime of wisdom in a handful of words.

“Folks, we thank you for honoring us,” McGee told the crowd with a chronic condition of showering the war heroes with one standing ovation after another. Then McGee turned his attention to the young people. “But we honor them with these four P’s: Perceive, prepare, perform, persevere.”

The hope must be that the young people – unwittingly caught in a starring role of someone else’s party – received the advice with the earnestness with which it was delivered.

In fact, you didn’t have to be so young to absorb this wisdom McGee offered:

“Perceive: Dream your dreams, find your talents and find something you enjoy doing. We did.

“Prepare: Get a good education, learn to read, write and speak well to develop those talents that you dreamed about.

“Perform: Let excellence be your goal in everything that you do. Never less than your best.

“Persevere: Do not let circumstances be an excuse for not achieving.”

With that, McGee returned to his seat on the stage to another thundering ovation and the reason for the whole event perhaps seemed secondary.

The occasion was the dedication of an F-16 Red Tail plane that symbolized the contributions of the Tuskegee Airmen. The red tails were the mark of the Tuskegee Airmen, who overcame innumerable social obstacles to become a picture of efficiency in escorting bombers.

Joe Fitzgerald, civilian aide to the Secretary of the U.S. Army and vice chair of the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission, said at the ceremony that the Tuskegee Airmen were the best at their job during World War II.

“The average number of bombers lost by other fighter escort groups of the 15th Air Force was nearly double the loss rate of the bombers protected by the Tuskegee Airmen – the Red Tails,” Fitzgerald said as applause broke out.

More than the dedication of the plane with its distinctive red tail, the ceremony paid tribute to those who flew it as well as those who prepared it for flight.

The seven Tuskegee Airmen at Saturday’s event: McGee, Leo Gray, George Hardy, James Sheppard, Enoch Woodhouse, Donald Elder and Milton Crenshaw, who was introduced as being “95 years young” by retired Air Force Col. Roosevelt Lewis, chair of the Alabama Space Science Exhibit Commission.

“It’s hard to describe into words the feeling that I have at this point in my career as a four-star general,” said Gen. Dennis Via, Commanding General for the U.S. Army Materiel Command at Redstone Arsenal, who, like the Tuskegee Airmen, is African American.

“But I can tell you I would not be a four-star general standing before you today had it not been for the great sacrifices of these men and those who served with them who laid the foundation on which we stand today. I’m proud to stand on their shoulders.”

Via talked of bringing his son Bradley to the ceremony.

“What you need to understand is this morning, we’re going to see the men who have allowed dad to accomplish what he has accomplished,” Via said he told his son. Then he turned to his left and looked at the Tuskegee Airmen and said, “And I thank you for that.”

To read the article online, go to:

Top Marriott and Renaissance spas found in Alabama

While the resort spas in Aruba, Palm Beach, San Paulo and St. Croix certainly are first class, the best Marriott and Renaissance Hotel spas in 2014 are found in Sweet Home Alabama. As of August 1, 2014, three of the top seven Renaissance Hotel spas and two of the top four Marriott spas are part of the Resort Collection along Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

From custom massages and facials to body and nail treatments, the RTJ Spa Trail features Southern Hospitality and innovative treatments that are truly world class. Clearly great golf and spas work well together in Alabama. Below are the current Renaissance and Marriott spa rankings, as of Aug. 1, 2014:

Spa Rankings out of 89 Renaissance Hotels in North America:
• 1) Spa at Renaissance Montgomery
• 4) Spa at the Battle House Hotel – Mobile
• 7) Spa at Renaissance Ross Bridge – Birmingham

Spa Rankings out of 358 Marriott Hotels in North America
• 1) Spa at the Marriott Shoals – Florence
• 4) Spa at the Grand Hotel – Pt. Clear

The Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail and Resort Collection are owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama.

Birmingham tops list of ‘most exciting cities in Alabama’
By Cliff Sims, Yellowhammer News, Aug. 6

The Movoto Real Estate blog is out this week with a complete ranking of the “most exciting” cities in Alabama with a population of 10,000 or more.

Topping the list is the state’s largest city, Birmingham, largely thanks to its abundance of nightlife options.

But before we get to the rest of the list, let’s take a quick look at how Movoto compiled its rankings.

To create this oh-so-exciting list, we started by making a stop to the 2010 U.S. Census. There, we found all of the places in Alabama with populations of 10,000 or more, which left us with a total of 64 places. Then, we looked at each in terms of the following eight criteria:

– Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
– Live music venues per capita
– Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
– Arts and Entertainment per capita (movie theaters, festivals, galleries, theaters, etc.)
– Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
– Percentage of restaurants that are not fast food (the higher the better)
– Percentage of young residents ages 18 to 34 (the higher the better)
– Population density (the higher the better)

To read the entire article and see the list of the top ten cities, go to:


Gadsden’s Back Forty ranked one of Best Local Breweries in U.S.

By Ryan Phillips, Birmingham Business Journal, Aug. 7

Condé Nast Traveler, a lifestyle travel magazine, recently released a list of Best Local Breweries in the U.S., and one Alabama location was chosen.

Gadsden’s Back Forty Brewing Co. has produced the popular Naked Pig Pale Ale since 2009 and is the only Southern brewery that made the cut of nine locations.

Readers chose the list of nine breweries for Condé Nast Traveler, the majority of which were based in the Northeast or on the West Coast.

See the full list from Condé Nast Traveler here.

As we have reported, the craft beer industry has taken off in Alabama, with more people brewing their own beer around the country than ever before. In 2014 alone, craft beer production has gone up 18 percent.

While Back Forty’s popularity grows, travel magazines are not the only people taking note of this Alabama institution.

Back Forty Brewing Co. has also found its way into circles with high-end customers, such as golf champion Jason Dufner.

Dufner, the reigning PGA Champion and former golfer at Auburn University, chose Back Forty as a menu item to be featured at the PGA Champions Dinner held earlier this week at Churchill Downs.

“We were thrilled to be a part of this dinner to support Jason Dufner and our friend Chef David Bancroft,” said Jason Wilson, Back Forty founder and president. “Being able to represent the state of Alabama in this capacity was tremendous and it gave us the opportunity to show others the best of what our state has to offer in terms of hospitality, cuisine and craft beer.”

Wilson said the event was important in getting the word out about the different products that make Alabama cuisine and beer so special.

“I can’t think of a better place to have had the opportunity to showcase the best of Alabama with products like our beer, seafood, cheese and grits,” he said.

To read this article online, go to:

USA TODAY 10Best: Southern beaches
By Eric Grossman, USA TODAY, June 27

Given the South’s frequent heat and humidity, it comes as no surprise that most of the region’s beaches receive a steady stream of visitors. Quality among beaches varies – no one will mistake even the most acclaimed options with Bali or Hawaii – but there are several worthy options offering everything from rugged, wild terrain to affordable, family-friendly activities. Here are 10 of the best beaches the South has to offer.

Gulf Shores, Ala.
White quartz sand, shallow waters, and wide stretches of uncrowded beach draw in-the-know types to Gulf Shores. Visitors can spot dolphins, cruise on a pontoon boat, or learn to catch shrimp.

To read the entire article online and see the complete list of southern beaches, go to:

Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce to host movie premiere

The Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce is hosting the premiere of the movie “Coffee Shop” which was filmed in Fairhope.  The premiere will be Fri., Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Hall, Fairhope Campus of Faulkner State Community College. Other downtown venues and times may become available as demand warrants.

The Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce encourages premiere attendees to enjoy afternoon shopping and dining along with the evening’s “big screen” entertainment, thus the event theme of “Dinner & a Movie.” Local restaurants are planning lunch and dinner specials for moviegoers. Visit the Chamber’s Facebook page for updates on participating restaurants and their offers.

“Film entertainment is a growing sector of economic development in our state, and we are excited to see it include the unique characteristics of the Eastern Shore,” stated Heiko Einfeld, Executive Director of the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce. The filmmakers tapped local talent as extras. “Those attending will see many of their friends and neighbors on the ‘silver screen,’” Einfeld added.

“Coffee Shop” is a love story about a young woman who is desperately trying to hold on to her business, a quaint, small-town coffee shop similar to the one featured in the television hit sitcom “Friends.”  Many familiar scenes of Fairhope are featured in the film, including the downtown and bayfront areas. Some of the coffee shop scenes were filmed in Birmingham.

The writer, director, and attending cast members will be available following the premiere. During the afternoon, they will be engaged in classroom workshops with Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics & Visual Effects students at Faulkner State Community College.

Tickets are $10.00 each and may be purchased at the Eastern Shore Chamber of Commerce in Fairhope at 327 Fairhope Avenue. For more information, call 928-6387.

More than 10,000 spectators witness 150th anniversary of Battle of Mobile Bay
By Marc D. Anderson,, Aug. 4

Thanks to more than 700 re-enactors, hundreds of volunteers and dry weather, organizers say commemoration events surrounding the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Mobile Bay and sieges of Fort Morgan and Fort Gaines were a resounding success over the weekend.

Thousands of pounds of gunpowder fueled artillery on land and water throughout the three-day event giving spectators an up-close and realistic look of what soldiers and sailors endured during and after the Battle of Mobile Bay on Aug. 5, 1864.

An estimated 10,000 people witnessed the re-enactments at Fort Morgan in Baldwin County while more than 4,000 more attended events at Fort Gaines on Dauphin Island, according to organizers with the Alabama Historical Commission, which oversees Fort Morgan, and the nonprofit Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board, which oversees Fort Gaines.

“I’d just like to express my appreciation to our local partners and volunteers who committed their time and energy on behalf of the state of Alabama to help make a special weekend possible,” said Stephen McNair, director of historic sites for the Alabama Historical Commission, which partnered with the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber and tourism bureau to hold the event. “We were extremely pleased with the turnout and the weather.”

Estimates from ticket and retail sales and a portion of the proceeds from the food vendor, Sassy Bass, show the commission raising more $50,000 during the Fort Morgan events, according to McNair.

At Fort Gaines, general admission at the fort brought in an estimated $20,000, according to Dauphin Island Park and Beach Board Executive Director Matthew Capps.

“Overall, I thought it was an excellent event,” Capps wrote in an email to on Monday. “I am very proud of all of our re-enactors and I feel that we honored the brave soldiers that sacrificed 150 years ago. I found it to be very interesting listening and talking with the re-enactors that were portraying their grandfather or great grandfather who fought in the American Civil War.”

An estimated 450 re-enactors participated for the Fort Morgan events and another 275 at Fort Gaines from at least 15 states.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and his wife Dianne attended the surrender at Fort Morgan, toured the fort, and a re-enactor even let Bentley shoot a rifle.

“I’m just very happy to be a part of this and I’m glad that we were able to get some funding to help this because this is part of our tourism for the state,” Bentley said. “We have a lot of history in the state of Alabama, and we need to let people know about that.”

The Fort Morgan event was funded by a $400,000 grant from BP for oil spill recovery. Half of that funding is going toward long-term capital improvements on the historic properties, enhancing preservation and building new tourism momentum there.

“We have an obligation that we take very seriously to make sure that as much of that money stays local and makes as large an economic impact in Baldwin County as possible,” McNair said.

The improvements at Fort Morgan include comprehensive safety upgrades ranging from new stairs and handrails, to brick and mortar repairs, to a new flagpole, entrance sign and walkways — some of which were completed before the 150th commemoration. The remaining repairs are expected to be finished in January.

Of all the sites overseen by the Alabama Historical Commission, McNair said Fort Morgan is the closest to becoming self-sustainable.

The 479-acre site is steeped in history. First serving as Fort Bowyer that was part of two battles during the War of 1812. It was replaced by Fort Morgan, which was completed in 1834. In addition to the Battle of Mobile Bay, the fort was active during the Spanish-American War and World War I and World War II.

“It’s a premier historical site in the state of Alabama but it’s also a premier site for anybody with an interest in outdoor activities, such as birders, fishermen and boaters and anybody who enjoys day hikes or simply wants to enjoy the public beach,” McNair said.

Fort Gaines was established in 1821 and after the Civil War it continued to serve as a U.S. military installation through WWII.

To read the entire article, go to:

Art of Alabama Food exhibit in Florence Friday

Florence/Lauderdale Tourism and the Alabama Tourism Department are bringing an art exhibit to town that is so beautiful you can almost taste it. The mouthwatering Art of Alabama Food exhibit is coming to the new Court Street Market in downtown Florence Aug. 15 through Sept. 6.

Featuring 36 professional food photographs from the “100 Dishes to Eat in Alabama Before You Die” brochure and as part of the Alabama Tourism Department’s “Alabama Food” campaign, the exhibit celebrates chefs and restaurants that represent the state’s trademark twist on Southern cuisine. The exhibit has already been displayed and received critical acclaim in New York City, New Orleans, Atlanta, Birmingham and Gulf Shores in the past year.

“This exhibit and the new venue at Court Street Market are a perfect match,” said Debbie Wilson, Director of Florence/Lauderdale Tourism. “We couldn’t be more proud to showcase Alabama food with this wonderful exhibit.”

“With a large pool of culinary talent and innovative restaurants, it’s an exciting time for Alabama food,” Lee Sentell, Director of the Alabama Tourism Department said. “This one-of-a-kind exhibit features images of signature dishes from restaurants across the state. It’s a great representation of Alabama’s food culture.” One of the dishes featured is the orange-pineapple ice cream at Trowbridge’s.

A VIP “Sneak Peek” reception will be held on Thursday, Aug. 14, from 6 – 9 p.m. to benefit the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.  Hors d’oeuvres will be prepared by Shoals area chefs. Tickets for the reception are $75 per person. RSVP to 256-740-4141.

For more details on The Art of Alabama Food exhibit, visit

For more information on the exhibit contact Florence/Lauderdale Tourism at:
256-740-4141 or

For more information on the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, call 256-381-4417 or

Alabama Tourism Department workshops

The Alabama Tourism Department will host two tourism workshops for new tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in their area.  These workshops, which are free of charge, will be held Oct. 7, in the Alabama Center for Commerce, 7th floor auditorium, 401 Adams Avenue, Montgomery; and Oct. 9, at the McWane Science Center in Birmingham.  Come learn about the many programs and services the Alabama Tourism Department offers.

For registration information, contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or e-mail: Rosemary.Judkins@Tourism.Alabama.Gov.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Aug. 15 – 24               Alabama Restaurant Week
Aug. 17 – 20               SCMA/GNOA/AMA Regional Meeting, Shreveport, LA
Aug. 22 – 26               SYTA – Toronto, Canada
Sept. 7 – 14                 World Leisure Congress, Mobile
Oct. 7                          Tourism Workshop, Montgomery
Oct. 9                          Tourism Workshop, Birmingham



Tourism Tuesdays is a free electronic newsletter produced by the Alabama Tourism Department. It contains news about the state tourism department and the Alabama tourism industry.

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Alabama Tourism Department