Tourism Tuesdays May 12, 2015


  • Alabama Garden Trail brochure released
  • Sign-Up for April Walking Tours 2016
  • Americana Music Triangle officially announced
  • Three Alabama cities join Alabama tourism information on
  • Alabama Music Hall of Fame induction banquet returns to the Shoals in 2016
  • Opening Day at CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park
  • 3 Alabama eateries in running for USA Today’s 10Best Southern Fine Dining Restaurants
  • Campers attending Space Camp reach for the stars
  • Hop a ride with the new Meet Montgomery Gem Car Tours
  • Alabama Makers Market looking for gift shop attendees
  • Welcome Centers gearing up for National Tourism Month
  • The 2015 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism
  • Search is on for Alabama Barbecue Restaurants
  • Alabama Makers
  • Mobile Apps will be featured in 2016 Alabama Vacation Guide
  • 2016 Vacation Guide & Calendar of Event deadlines
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Alabama Garden Trail brochure released

Seven botanical gardens across the state are featured in the new “Alabama Garden Trail”
brochure and on the companion website

The colorful 15 page brochure produced by the Alabama Tourism Department includes the Huntsville Botanical Garden, Birmingham Botanical Gardens, Aldridge Gardens in Hoover, Jasmine Hill Gardens in Wetumpka, Dothan Area Botanical Gardens, Mobile Botanical Gardens and Bellingrath Gardens and Home in Theodore.  The website features “don’t miss” highlights for each of the gardens, upcoming events and a collection of road trip guides to nearby attractions.

“Alabama is blessed to have so many spectacular gardens for visitors to enjoy.  Spring is the perfect time to get out and experience these wonderful natural attractions,” said state tourism director Lee Sentell.
The Alabama Garden Trail brochure is available at the eight state welcome centers, the garden trail site locations, local tourism bureaus and online at:

Sign-Up for April Walking Tours 2016

Town interested in participating in the 2016 April Walking Tours should respond with an email giving their town’s name, starting location, contact person and shipping address to  The deadline to sign-up for the walking tours is June 1.

More than 1,600 people participated in this year’s April Walking Tours. Some 27 towns across the state hosted the tours. Towns with the most participants included Huntsville with 240, Florence with 238, Fairhope with 170 and Mobile with 156.

The hour long tours start at 10:00 a.m. each Saturday morning in April. Dates for the 2016 April Walking Tours are April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30.

“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 twelve years ago” he said.

Americana Music Triangle officially announced
By Bobby Bozeman,, May 6

It was a mantra of sorts as Americana Music Triangle organizers formally introduced themselves to the Shoals on Tuesday at the Swampers Bar and Grill.

That “Gold Record Road” is a 1,500-mile stretch of highway where nine genres of music originate — blues, jazz, country, rock ’n’ roll, gospel, Southern gospel, Cajun-zydeco, soul and R&B, and bluegrass. Nashville and Memphis and New Orleans make up the cornerstones of the trail with places such as Tupelo and Clarksdale, Mississippi, and Muscle Shoals as stops on the trail.

Aubrey Preston, who is heading up this project, presented the Americana Music Triangle largely in terms of tourism.

He lamented groups previously came to Nashville or Memphis wouldn’t have access to resources telling them about similar attractions in other states.

“We have to think outside of state lines,” he said.

After the conference, Florence-Lauderdale Tourism assistant director Alison Stanfield said the Americana Music Triangle publicizes the Shoals in ways local tourism offices don’t have the budget for, and works across state lines in ways state tourism offices can’t.

“We see lots of individual international tourists here, especially for music,” she said. “This reaches to international group tours.”

Having planned itineraries with Muscle Shoals as a prominent stop will attract the larger tours such as the Americana Music Triangle, she said.

“Most international tourists take extended vacations,” she said.

Trips like this also are a way for the Shoals to compete with bigger cities such as Los Angeles, New York or Chicago because they combine the attractions of multiple cities and focus on music, Preston said.

The local tourism offices will use materials from the Americana Music Triangle, so promoting outside events won’t come from local budgets, Stanfield said.

Brochures and plans also will be spread around the various attractions on the trail. So tourists visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame will see pamphlets directing them to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.

Alabama tourism Director Lee Sentel said he was pleased the Alabama Music Hall of Fame would be getting promoted on the trail.

“We’re happy to be a couple of dots on your dot diarama,” he said to laughs in the audience.

Judy Hood said she’s glad to see a spirit of cooperation and not competition between attractions.

“What’s good for one of us is good for all of us,” she said. “People want authenticity; now we’ve streamlined that process.”

She added, “What do I love about this?  Everything.”

Historian Colin Escott told The Associated Press the triangle accurately spotlights locations that will draw people to the South — the jazz halls of New Orleans, the rock ’n’ roll and soul studios of Memphis, and the cotton plantations of the Mississippi Delta.

“People do seem to want to touch something that’s real,” said Escott, co-writer of the book and musical “Million Dollar Quartet” and contributor to the triangle project. “They love this music throughout the world, and it is like a universal currency.”

To read this article online, go to:

Three Alabama cities join Alabama tourism information on

Last year, the Alabama Tourism Department worked with Brand USA to include enhanced statewide information on the series of sites; English, German, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Korean and Japanese.

At the time, the Alabama Tourism Department also announced a program to help Alabama city destinations secure their own listings on the series of direct-to-consumer international websites.  As of this month, three Alabama cities are now listed on the English websites and will soon have information translated for the other sites.

Alabama tourism information;

Alabama cities information listings;

Gulf Shores/Orange Beach


At least 3 other city destinations could participate in this program.

Miles is the official marketing partner for Brand USA and is working with the Alabama Tourism Department to make this opportunity available.  You can reach Angie Zok, Global Marketing Executive for Miles at or at 904-687-9352 for more details on how to participate.

For more information, contact

Alabama Music Hall of Fame induction banquet returns to the Shoals in 2016
By Russ Corey,, May 7

Citing the success of the 2014 event, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame’s board of directors announced Wednesday the 2016 hall of fame induction banquet will return to the Shoals in February.

The announcement was made during the board’s quarterly meeting at the Von Braun Center.

The banquet is scheduled for Feb. 26 at the Marriott Shoals Conference Center in Florence.

“We’re excited to have it back in the Shoals,” board member Judy Hood said.

Hood said the board wants the event in the Shoals again to continue building on the success of the 2014 banquet. It was the first time for the banquet to be held in the Shoals. The event sold out in advance.

“This is an exciting time for the hall of fame and for Muscle Shoals music,” Hood said.

Board member and Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell will chair a committee in charge of selecting the 2016 inductees.

For the first time, he said, the public will have an opportunity to suggest nominations for induction into the hall of fame.

“I think we could generate a lot of interest,” Sentell said.

Sentell said he hopes to have something in place by June to allow Alabamians to suggest nominees.

More details about the banquet and the nominees will become available in the coming months. In the meantime, the board will be searching for sponsors to offset costs associated with the event.

Sentell said he’s been told by community leaders in the Shoals that the best way for the community to support the hall of fame is through sponsor packages.

Board member Buell Springer said he also has spoken to a potential sponsor for the banquet.

“People are coming to us now wanting to help,” Hood said.

Earlier in the meeting, hall of fame manager Dixie Griffin said the attraction had 1,852 visitors in April, its best month on record. She said intimate concerts, lunchtime shows and other events have generated revenue and attention for the hall of fame.

Hood said the hall of fame has attracted people from 37 countries and all 50 states.

Board member Judy Ryals, president and CEO of the Huntsville-Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, said American music is of big interest to international visitors.

“We hope that interest continues to increase,” she said.

The board also gave Griffin approval to hire part-time help when needed.

“I try to visit the hall of fame once a week and this group is so excited and working so hard, it amazes me,” Springer said.

Sentell said the additional revenue the small events are generating is reducing the amount of state funding the facility needs to operate. The hall of fame receives funding through the State Tourism Department.

“I want to commend you and the entire staff for the hard work you do,” board member Sara Hamlin told Griffin. Hamlin is vice president of tourism with the Greater Birmingham Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Sentell said the additional revenue and outside sponsorship is important to reaching the goal of making the hall of fame self-sufficient.

“We’re going to be under budget for revenue from the state,” Sentell said. “That’s what the governor is looking for.”

To read this article online, go to:

Campers attending Space Camp reach for the stars
By Hanna Ward, WHNT 19 News, April 29

Thousands of people travel from all over the world to come to Space Camp here in Huntsville. Every year one week of Space Camp is designed specifically for deaf students.

Students from deaf schools all over the United States enjoyed everything Space Camp has to offer this week.

David Oyler teaches science for the Utah School for the Deaf. David said, “There are so many opportunities here to empower the students you know we have such bright students here, and they can put that to use here.”

Some of his students are even attending camp for the second time. Patrick Epperly came to space camp in 6th grade. Patrick said, “This year I was just more interested because I am going to be graduating soon.” Space camp actually encouraged him to pursue certain career goals, “I want to do engineering just something different in that, I like hands on experience and work.”

Itzel Garcia is also a returning camper. She came to Space Camp as a freshman. Itzel said, “It’s just an amazing experience and I mean just a lot of activities we get to do.” It is also nice having other people your age that you can relate to, “it is interesting just to learn their different signs you know because different states have difference signs sometimes.”

The Space and Rocket Center has interpreters from all over the United States help with Space Camp.

To read this article online, go to:

Opening Day at CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park
By Joe Songer,, May 6

The $20 million CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park opened to the public last week. The park invited visitors for the first day of live fire at the various ranges.

Range Master Donnie Heuman said that today is a soft opening to allow the kinks to be smoothed out. The formal dedication will be held June 5, 2015. Park hours are Wednesday-Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays 1-5 p.m.

Here is a link to CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park pricing.

Several dozens visitors came to the park this morning and were greeted in the 13,000 suare foot clubhouse by CMP park employees. They checked in, watched a safety presentation and fanned out to the different rifle, shotgun and pistol ranges.

Watch the first shot at CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park The $20 million CMP Talladega Marksmanship Park opened to the public today. The park invited visitors for the first day of live fire at the various ranges. The formal dedication will be held June 5, 2015. Nathan Truninger of Davenport Iowa was the visitor that shot the first round at the 200-300-600 yard range. He used a 1944 M1 Garand he purchased from the CMP last year. (Joe Songer/

The 200-300-600 yard range, the 100 yard range, the 5 Stand shotgun and Sporting Clays Shotgun were open today. Action Pistol and the 25-50 yard ranges will be open soon.

Nathan Truninger from Davenport, Iowa was he first customer to take a shot on the 200-300-600 yard range. He fired a 1944 Springfield M1 Garand he purchased from the CMP last year

Russell Casterlin of Springville, Alabama had the honor of the first shot taken at the 100 yard range. He also used a Springfield M1 Garand.

Talladega Marksmanship Park  offers shooting enthusiasts a wide selection of shooting disciplines from centerfire, rimfire rifle and pistol shooting to several stations for shotgunning.

The centerpiece of the park is a rifle range featuring yardage positions at 200-300-600 yards on a terraced site. The same system is used at the 100 yard range.

A 100 yard multi-use range is available to site in rifles and pistols before moving to the longer ranges.

There will be 50 fire points or positions to accommodate shooters with the space to double that capacity, if needed, in the future. All firing points are covered so weather won’t be a factor. Scoring will be seen in real time from the shooter’s position. This will help the shooter make the best use of his/her time at the range.

If you like to shoot pistols, a wide variety of options are available. There is a 50 foot pistol range, a 25 to 50 yard pistol range and 15 different Action Pistol ranges from 25-50 yards with 50 firing points.

Then there is shotgunning. The park will feature a 15 position sporting clays course in a beautiful setting. Also featured will be a 5 stand overlay trapshooting field. The shotgun areas are set in the woods away from the rifle and pistol ranges.

The mission of the CMP is to promote firearm safety and marksmanship training
with an emphasis on youth.

To read this article online, go to:

3 Alabama eateries in running for USA Today’s 10Best Southern Fine Dining Restaurants
By Lucy Berry,, May 6

Three eateries in north and central Alabama are in the running for USA TODAY’s 10Best Southern Fine Dining Restaurants list.

Huntsville-based Cotton Row joins Highlands Bar & Grill and Hot and Hot Fish Club of Birmingham on the ranking. Wednesday morning, Cotton Row took the No. 1 spot on the leader board, while Hot and Hot Fish Club fell at No. 5 and Highlands at No. 8.

You can vote here once a day through 10:59 a.m., May 25.

For more Alabama restaurant news, visit

To read the entire article and see a complete list of nominees, go to:

Hop a ride with the new Meet Montgomery Gem Car Tours

Meet Montgomery Gem Car Tours will begin a regular schedule of tours at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Saturdays beginning and ending at the Montgomery Visitor Center. The ninety minute tours can accommodate up to five people at a time and cost $20 per person. Call 334-538-6383 to reserve a tour.

The tour encompasses a thirteen mile route through some of Montgomery’s most historic neighborhoods, and includes sites featured on the Civil Heritage Trail as well as many popular and little-known restaurants and sites.

Owner and Pittsburgh native David Sadler fell in love with Montgomery because of its rich history and plentiful opportunity. In 2007 he started Concierge Services Inc., a professional car service, and in 2014 he began to offer rides via electric (gem) car to downtown workers to the area restaurants with his U-Go Montgomery shuttle. In the past two years David met with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce Convention & Visitor Bureau (MCVB) and City
Officials to explore the market for an electric car tour as a tourism product.

“I’m thrilled to launch Meet Montgomery Tours! We’re starting small with the hope to expand as demand grows along with the increasing number of visitors to Montgomery,” said Sadler.
“David’s passion for Montgomery is the perfect introduction to our city for anyone and we are excited to add this to a growing list of unique and exciting ways for visitors to engage with our city as a destination,” explained MCVB Vice President Dawn Hathcock.

Alabama Makers Market looking for gift shop attendees

The Alabama Tourism Department will host the first Alabama Makers Market on Thur., June 4, at the RSA Activity Center in Montgomery.  The market will showcase the talented artists and crafters of Alabama for the gift shop owners and managers in Alabama.

This is an excellent opportunity for those who own or manage a gift shop to see many of the amazing things that are crafted right here in Alabama.  Registration is requested, but not required.

Hours of the market are 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.  The RSA Activity Center is located at 201 Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, AL  36104.

To register, contact Leigh Cross: OR by phone, 334-242-4416.

Welcome Centers gearing up for National Tourism Month

The Eight Welcome Centers around Alabama are finalizing plans for an annual favorite – Tourism Day.  Each center celebrates National Tourism Month in May each year with a day full of special activities. The Centers have delicious food, refreshing drinks and local tourism partners on site to greet travelers to celebrate the official start of the summer travel season.  A list of the 2015 dates for each Center can be found at

May 6, Sumter Welcome Center, May 7, Cleburne Welcome Center; May 7, Grand Bay Welcome Center; May 14, Lanett Welcome Center; May 14, Baldwin Welcome Center; May 14, DeKalb Welcome Center; May 15, Houston Welcome Center; May 28, Ardmore Welcome Center

The 2015 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism

The 2015 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism will be held at the Renaissance Battle House Hotel & Spa in Mobile, Aug. 1-4.

The website is live and will take you to information regarding the 2015 convention.

The hotel group rate is $125 per night.  To book your room by phone, call 866-316-5957.  When calling in, please refer to the AL Governor’s Conference.  The last day to book is June 30.

To book online, go to: Book your group rate: Alabama Governors Conference on Tourism 2015 >>

Search is on for Alabama Barbecue Restaurants

The Alabama Tourism Department is conducting a search for barbecue restaurants around the state that might not have made it into the Alabama Barbecue book.  If you are or know of any barbecue restaurants in your area, please go to to sign in and join Alabama Tourism’s Year of Alabama Barbecue.

Alabama Makers

Alabama is home to a vast number of talented and creative people who produce a wide variety of items including, but not limited to, woodwork, paintings, ceramics, fabrics and a lot of food.

The Alabama Tourism Department is looking for information about all these people and their products.  We want the home-grown cottage industries as opposed to industrial giants.

Please send information about people and their products, including contact information, to Peggy Collins, or call 334-242-4545.

Mobile Apps will be featured in 2016 Alabama Vacation Guide

We need your help.  We are compiling a list of mobile apps offered by our Alabama Tourism Industry Partners.  A section in the 2016 Alabama Vacation Guide will be dedicated to mobile apps promoting the Alabama Tourism Industry.

If your organization has developed mobile apps to promote your area/attraction/business/event, please send a description and link to Jo Jo Terry,  Please send information regarding mobile apps that are even in the development stage.   The deadline is May 29.

If you have any questions, please contact Jo Jo Terry by email or phone, 334-353-4716 direct line.

2016 Vacation Guide & Calendar of Event deadlines

It’s time to get information submitted in order to have your attractions and events listed in the printed version of the Alabama Vacation Guide & Calendar of Events.  They must be entered into the website by June 30, for the Calendar of Events, and July 10, for the Vacation Guide.

The web address is:

If you have any questions, call Pam Smith at 334-353-4541.

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

May 29                        Deadline to get images to ATD
May 29                        Deadline to turn in mobile app information to ATD
June 1                          Deadline to sign up for 2016 April Walking Tours
June 4                          Alabama Makers Market, RSA Activity Center, Montgomery

Tourism Day Celebrations at Welcome Centers

Celebration time at all Welcome Centers is: 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

May 14                        Lanett Welcome Center Tourism Day Celebration
I-85 West of Georgia Line
May 15                        Houston Welcome Center Tourism Day Celebration
U.S. 231 North of FL Line
May 14                        Baldwin Welcome Center Tourism Day Celebration
I-10 West of FL Line
May 14                        DeKalb Welcome Center Tourism Day Celebration
I-59 West of GA Line
May 28                        Ardmore Welcome Center Tourism Celebration
I-65 South of TN Line


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.

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