Tourism Tuesdays October 13, 2015


  • Deadline for co-op ads in Southern Living is Oct. 27
  • Travel South International Showcase appointment request underway
  • Alabama’s Black Belt showcased at Southeastern Outdoor Press Association event
  • Mobile Bay CVB reveals new name, new brand
  • Porsche Sport Driving School brings international, high-income visitors to Birmingham
  • Grand Hotel partners with the Fairhope Film Festival this fall
  • Alabama Tourism Department announces winners in video contest
  • Gulf Shores wins bid to host first NCAA beach volleyball championships
  • Natureplex makes its debut in Millbrook
  • Original Oyster House owners win ARHA’s Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2015 Welcome Center Retreat partners registration open
  • 2015 Alabama-Mississippi Rural Tourism Conference
  • Alabama artists and craftspeople
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Deadline for co-op ads in Southern Living is Oct. 27

The Alabama Tourism Department will co-op up to 36 directory ads in February’s 50th anniversary issue of Southern Living. Ads valued at $6,440 in the South Central regional edition will be billed at $1,500 each. Our ad agency will design each ad with the same uniform layout for maximum impact. However, each ad will feature participating partner’s website and/or phone number plus logo. In addition, Partners are required to supply a high resolution color photo in vertical format and up to 29 words of ad copy.

The co-op section of up to six pages will appear in 700,000 copies delivered to subscribers in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky and Midwestern states – essentially the Interstate 65 corridor edition, plus newsstands. Each partner ad will also be supported by in-book and online reader service lead generation. Southern Living is aggressively promoting this special issue which will become a collector’s item for many of their faithful.

As a layout reference, look at the campaign from Georgia in the October issue of Southern Living. Alabama’s spread will be different in that your logo (not the State’s) will reverse out of the background color at the bottom of your ad. The web call to action will be your own web address, not the State’s. And a custom Alabama heading will appear across the top of all six pages.

We need your commitment and ad material by Oct. 27. Please submit at least two of your best color vertical photos so as to allow us the choice of which works best in the overall section design. An insertion order/space contract is available from Beth Cairns, . Send ad material to Questions? Call Beth at 404-88-1954 or Tommy at 334-242-4515.

Travel South International Showcase appointment request underway

For many Alabama tourism destinations now is the time to make their request to met with top international tour operators during the 4th annual Travel South International Showcase.    Appointment request scheduling opened last week and will end on Oct. 30.

The popular showcase, which this year will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina, from Nov. 30 – Dec. 3, allows destinations in the Travel South member states to meet with some 75 tour operators from around the world.

Twenty-two people from destinations in Alabama have signed up for the showcase this year and includes Lee Sentell, Grey Brennan and Della Tully from the Alabama Tourism Department; Ron Whitework of White Waterexpress, Ryan Cavender of Idewild Adventure Company and Michael Dorie of WildNative/Delta Safaris will be in the Alabama Road Trip booth; Matthew Beard of the Western and Sheraton Birmingham hotel, Leah Tucker of the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame and Cynthia McIntosh will be in the Birmingham CVB booth; Tom White of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center and Jennifer Moore will be in the Huntsville CVB booth; Candace Skelton of the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, Kelli Harris of the University of Alabama Museums and Tina Jones will be in the Tuscaloosa Tourism booth; Lydia Jones of the Mobile Battle House & Riverview Hotel and Ron McConnell will be in the Mobile CVB booth; Dixie Griffin of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame and Kathryn Balch and Susann Hamlin will be in the Muscle Shoals Colbert County booth; and Susan Adams of the Marriott Shoals and Georgia Turner and Rob Carnegie will be in the Florence CVB booth.

Alabama’s Black Belt showcased at Southeastern Outdoor Press Association event
World-Record Stokes alligator will be on public display

More than a hundred of the top outdoor sports, travel and tourism media professionals will gather Oct. 14-17 at Eufaula’s Lakepoint Resort for the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association’s 51st Annual Fall Conference. Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association is one of several sponsors of the event, and media guests will have the opportunity to enjoy pre- and post-conference trips that spotlight the best that the Black Belt has to offer travelers.

Also, the world-record Stokes Alligator is now on display and open to the public at Lakepoint Lodge in advance of the meeting and will be there until Oct. 17. There is no charge to see the massive reptile – caught in the Black Belt in 2014 – that measures 15 feet, 9 inches and weighed 1,011.5 pounds.

The conference is returning to Lakepoint for the third time in SEOPA’s history, the first since 1980. “The conference will be part homecoming, part celebration, part professional development and all fun,” said Gil Lackey, SEOPA first vice president and conference chairman.

“We are excited to bring members of the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association back to Alabama’s Black Belt,” said Pam Swanner, Project Director for Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association. “This region has so much to offer those who hunt and fish as well as those who love the great outdoors in general. There’s no doubt they’ll enjoy our scenic back roads, the culinary traditions, and its great heritage.”

Motivational speaker Chad Pregracke – the 2013 CNN Hero of the Year and founder of Living Lands & Waters, which has collected 8.4 million pounds of debris from U.S. rivers – will deliver the keynote address on Oct. 15. Other featured speakers include social media guru Rebecca McCormick, video production expert Kevin Tate of Mossy Oak and author/sustainable living advocate Stacy Harris.

Eighteen trips were made available to conference-goers, including bass fishing on famed Lake Eufaula, Ray Scott’s Trophy Bass Retreat, horseback and modern-day quail hunts as well as wild boar hunts, bowhunts for deer at Alabama state parks, and small game hunts. Soft adventure trips feature guided naturalist canoe trips on Millers Ferry near Camden, visits to the newly opened Alabama NaturePlex at Lanark in Millbrook, and whitewater rafting the Chattahoochee.

Sponsors for the annual meeting include Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association, Alabama Tourism Department, Eufaula/Barbour County Chamber of Commerce, City of Eufaula, Alabama Power, Alabama Quail Trail and Eufaula Heritage Association.

The Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association is committed to promoting and enhancing outdoor recreation and tourism opportunities in the Black Belt in a manner that provides economic and ecological benefits to the region and its citizens.

For information, go to

Mobile Bay CVB reveals new name, new brand
By Michelle Matthews,, Oct. 13

In an effort to more concisely convey just what the organization does, The Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau (MBCVB), the official tourism and convention marketing organization for the city, county and Mobile-area hospitality industry, on Monday announced a new name, Visit Mobile, and a new tagline: “Born to Celebrate.”

The new logo, featuring a burst of color (a flower? fireworks?), “visually represents an exuberant, celebratory feeling, and while it can mean different things to different people, there’s no questions that something joyful is occurring in Mobile,” according to a news release from Visit Mobile.

The new brand will be featured on the Visit Mobile website ( and on all business papers, apparel, trade show displays, signage, swag, brochures and visitors guides, social media platforms and all advertising. A video is also being developed to promote Mobile via social media and convention groups considering meeting here.

“Born to Celebrate” capitalizes on the fact that Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras, and reflects the joyful spirit and hospitality of people in the Mobile area, according to information from Visit Mobile.

“We’ve had several other brands and advertising campaigns over the years, but we felt we needed to develop and tell Mobile’s story in a new, authentic and meaningful-to-the-consumer way,” said Al Hutchinson, Visit Mobile’s CEO/president. “We had to find that one truth that was believable not only by tourists but one that our locals could own and identify with.

“It’s not a simple endeavor for any city, but it has been especially challenging for such a historic and diverse city as Mobile. We are certainly a melting pot of different cultures, and identifying and deciding upon that one thing was no easy task.”

The year-long process of creating the new brand involved creating a committee of stakeholder organizations including Alabama Restaurant Association – Mobile Chapter; City of Mobile; Downtown Mobile Alliance; Mobile Airport Authority; Mobile attractions community; Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce; Mobile Area Lodging Association; Mobile Bay CVB; Mobile County Commission; and the University of South Alabama.

BCF, a Virginia Beach, Va.-based agency that works exclusively with destinations, hotels, resorts and travel-related experiences, was selected to create a “brand oath” – “Mobile has a spirited, soulful sense of hospitality” – and develop a new logo and tagline to support it.

“This is an incredible moment for Mobile as we begin to take our place as one of America’s great destination cities,” Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said in the news release. “To capture that momentum, we must develop a new brand that can help us tell our story and put a ribbon around the package of outstanding amenities and experiences we have to offer.

“We applaud the CVB for leading that effort as we invite the world to enjoy our spirited, soulful hospitality. Whether it’s great food, music, history or culture, we truly are ‘Born to Celebrate.'”

To read this article online, go to,

Porsche Sport Driving School brings international, high-income visitors to Birmingham
By Dawn Kent Azok,, Oct. 9

People from all 50 states and at least 40 countries have attended the Porsche Sport Driving School over the past dozen years.

During their stay, they have experienced Birmingham through the lens of one of its top attractions: Barber Motorsports Park.

These aren’t just any people, either. The school typically attracts business owners, corporate executives and other high-income earners and company decision-makers.

And for economic developers tasked with promoting the region, that’s the kind of exposure money can’t buy.

“There is significant value in having those people here, and it goes far beyond the amount of money they spend while they’re here,” said Rick Davis, senior vice president of economic development for the Birmingham Business Alliance.

“While it’s hard to quantify, the impact of the positive publicity that is generated by the Porsche school specifically, and Barber in general, is significant.”

Davis added that 95 percent of the Porsche school participants are from out of state.

Most of the international attendees come from Central and South America, while others hail from far-flung locations such as Australia, China and Saudi Arabia.

The Porsche Sport Driving School at Barber is the largest of Porsche’s 13 driving schools worldwide and the only one in North America.

The German automaker has a driving experience program at its U.S. headquarters in Atlanta and another slated for a new Porsche experience center under construction in Los Angeles. But those are shorter and more along the lines of a test drive.

Since it opened at Barber in 2003, the school has hosted more than 20,000 participants.

It also accounted for 70,000 hotel nights in the Birmingham area and an economic impact of $25.9 million in its first decade alone, according to the most recent analysis.

Meanwhile, Porsche invests an average of $3.55 million in its operations at Barber each year, and last year, that number was closer to $4 million. Over the years, the company also has used Barber to debut several new models to the automotive press.

Along with the Porsche Sport Driving School, Barber Motorsports Park also is home to the Mercedes-Benz Brand Immersion Experience, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Triumph Superbike Challenge and Barber Vintage Festival, which is being held this weekend.

Officials recently announced a major expansion of the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, which has the world’s largest collection of vintage and contemporary motorcycles.

Other recent improvements at the park include the Barber Proving Grounds, a track area and wet/dry skidpad that can accommodate additional events while the main track is in use and a 440-foot-long pedestrian bridge that connects the museum to the track infield.

George Barber, the Birmingham businessman who built the 830-acre racing venue, said Porsche’s presence gives the park great credibility.

A former racecar driver, Barber said his love affair with Porsche cars goes back to the 1960s, when he raced them.

“It’s absolutely a quality product and quality people, and that’s what I wanted to do with the racetrack,” he said.
Barber’s goal for the entire facility is to promote the region, and Porsche fits well with that vision.

“People are coming to Birmingham that normally would never come, and that’s what this is all about,” he said.

To read this article online, go to:

Grand Hotel partners with the Fairhope Film Festival this fall

Mark your calendars for Nov. 12 through 15, and get ready for four days of brilliant, entertaining and award-winning films screened throughout the beautiful town of Fairhope. The Fairhope Film Festival selection committee has been hard at work throughout this past year, attending some of the world’s best film festivals and reviewing hours of innovative and creative films as part of its mission to deliver the Best of the Best in filmmaking.

The Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa has been providing exceptional hospitality experiences since opening in 1847. A big supporter of the Fairhope Film Festival, this Gulf Coast resort is located just minutes from the festival, and offers resort view rooms starting at $229 per night during the event. Through this partnership, guests can enjoy the best of film and Southern Hospitality all in one trip.

Located near Fairhope in the picturesque beach hamlet of Point Clear, the Grand luxury hotel along the Gulf Coast offers guests opportunities for both relaxation and entertainment. From its two renowned golf courses at the Lakewood Golf Club, to the 20,000 square-foot Grand Spa, comfort and relaxation abound. The hotel also features a stunning pool complex, tennis courts, and is just moments from the white sand beaches of Alabama’s famed Gulf Coast.

Recently, the Historic Hotels of America named the Grand Hotel “Best Historic Hotel” in the country with more than 400 rooms. Its social media efforts have also been named the best in the country for historic properties. The Grand Hotel embraces its rich history through daily pageantry, seamlessly blending time-honored tradition with bold and new offerings like high-tech meeting facilities and delectable, innovative cuisine.

Book your visit for the Fairhope Film Festival and savor an exceptional Southern Hospitality experience from start to finish.

To make reservations, visit

For more info on the Fairhope Film Festival, visit

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Alabama Tourism Department announces winners in video contest

The Alabama Road Trip Video contest has concluded and winners have been chosen from Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Alabama, New Mexico and Louisiana. Contestants submitted a video of their ultimate Alabama road trip for a chance to win cash or other prizes, such as a GoPro camera or copies of the books Alabama Road Trips and Alabama Barbecue – Delicious Road Trips.

“We congratulate the winners of this contest, and are thrilled with the quality of the videos received,” said Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department. “Each winning entry was indicative of the kind of enthusiasm for the state that we’re seeing as people discover what Alabama has to offer.”

To view the winning entries, visit

To learn more about Alabama road trips, visit or download the Alabama Road Trips app, available on the App Store or Google Play.

Gulf Shores wins bid to host first NCAA beach volleyball championships
By Lauren McLaughlin,,, Oct. 9

The NCAA Beach Volleyball Committee selected the host site for the inaugural women’s National Collegiate Beach Volleyball Championship.

The NCAA’s 90th and newest National Championship will debut May 6-8 at the Gulf Shores Public Beach and will be hosted by the city of Gulf Shores, Alabama and Orange Beach Sports Commission.

The host institution for the inaugural beach volleyball championship will be the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The university and Gulf Shores have also been chosen as the hosts of the 2017 championship, which will be May 5-7, 2017.

“We are thrilled to bring the very first NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship to Gulf Shores,” said Marilyn Moniz-Kaho’ohanohano, chair of the Beach Volleyball Committee and associate athletics director at University of Hawaii Manoa. “Gulf Shores provides a location where the sport originated ocean side and will provide a great experience for our student-athletes.”

Beach volleyball is the fastest-growing NCAA sport with 47 sponsoring schools. The addition of the beach volleyball championship will become the 45th NCAA championship administered for women. The championship will have an eight-team bracket that will be played in a double-elimination format with teams consisting of five pairs of female student-athletes. After being placed on the list of emerging sports for women in 2009, beach volleyball is the fifth sport to succeed from the emerging sports program.

“We couldn’t be more excited to partner with the City of Gulf Shores, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission, USA Volleyball Gulf Coast Region and Hangout Music Festival Productions to host the very first NCAA championship for beach volleyball,” said Mark Ingram, director of athletics at University of Alabama at Birmingham. “This is an exciting time for the sport and for our program. We look forward to the opportunity and helping to make this a great event.”

No stranger to hosting large sporting events, Gulf Shores has hosted the AVCA Collegiate Sand Volleyball Championship since 2012.

“The Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Sports Commission and Tourism Offices are beyond excited to continue our relationship with the Collegiate Beach Volleyball National Championship and to begin our partnership with the NCAA,” said Beth Gendler, vice president of sales for the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. “Our community has been supportive of this amazing sport for the four years the AVCA has hosted its championship here, and we are proud to help place the sport in the national spotlight even more as the NCAA begins conducting this championship.”

As one of the world’s leading manufacturers of high performance sports equipment the NCAA is also proud to announce that Wilson Sporting Goods Co. will provide the official ball for the beach volleyball championship as part of a three-year agreement.

“We have been a part of beach volleyball at the youth, amateur and pro levels for more than 30 years and are thrilled to see this sport move to a NCAA-sanctioned championship,” said Mike Kuehne, Wilson’s general manager. “Our new NCAA beach volleyball is reflective of our player-driven innovation process and our collaborative relationship with the NCAA and our beach volleyball advisory staff.”

The new Wilson NCAA Beach Volleyball has been designed with the insight and feedback from collegiate and professional beach volleyball players and coaches, including three-time Olympic gold medalist and Wilson advisory staff member Kerri Walsh Jennings.

For more information on the NCAA Beach Volleyball Championship, log on to
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Natureplex makes its debut in Millbrook
By Alabama News Network, Oct. 9

It started as an idea in 2001, with 350 acres of land and trails.

Now, the second phase of the project is complete with the grand opening of the 23,000 square foot facility known as the Natureplex.

It’s a big day for Alabama Wildlife Federation executive director Tim Gothard.

“This is going to allow us to expand our conservation education activities with youth and adults dramatically through this grand opening,” said Gothard.

The idea is to give kids a hands on experience with nature. Over 300 kids were bussed in to get a first look at real animals like snakes and bees.

They can even take in movies in the built in theater.

Hallie Smith was ready to learn when she walked through the doors.

“We talked about life cycles of like animals and stuff,” said Smith.

And her dad is excited for what this place can show her.

“It’s an exciting place. It’s got a lot to offer for the whole family. It’s a great place to come and explore the nature in a safe environment,” said Rusty Smith.

The entire project cost 6 million dollars, It’s been a big undertaking for the Alabama Wildlife Federation. The Natureplex will be open for school trips throughout the year, but also to the general public. Gothard is looking forward to seeing even more people take the trip into nature.

“One of the things we know is that with outdoor hands on learning is shown to improve student performance and discipline problems. That’s going to be a great help to the educational system but also two, by using the outdoors as a teaching tool, we inspire these young people to be the next stewards of our outdoors,” said Gothard.

The Natureplex will be open for free all weekend. But once the grand opening wraps up, admission will be 5 dollars.
To read this article online, go to:

Original Oyster House owners win ARHA’s Lifetime Achievement Award

The Alabama Restaurant and Hospitality Alliance presented Joe Roszkowski and David Dekle of the Original Oyster House the Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Stars of the Industry Awards Ceremony. The 16th Annual Stars of the Industry Awards Dinner, which honored Alabama’s lodging, tourism, and restaurant industry, was held

Mon., Sept. 28, at the Sheraton Hotel in Birmingham. The award has been given since 2004 in recognition of outstanding achievement in the restaurant industry and generous contributions throughout the state of Alabama. What a wonderful testament to their 32-year journey on a mission to exceed customer’s expectations and give back to the community they serve.

Through a shared dream, Joe Roszkowski, his wife Mary Lou and long-time friends and business partners David and Jane Dekle built one of the most iconic seafood restaurants along the Gulf Coast. The Original Oyster House first opened in Gulf Shores with sixty seats and ten employees. Southern hospitality coupled with the best tasting, fresh Gulf seafood and waterfront locations have ensured the restaurants’ place in history, having become one of the most beloved family restaurants in Mobile and Gulf Shores.

Joe is President/CEO and David Dekle is vice president of Superb Foods, the management company of the Original Oyster House restaurants, Geez Louise Boutique, Trading Company and Joe & Dave’s Sauces and Seasonings. Being named one of the best oyster bars in America by Time, Inc. along with having numerous awards for seafood gumbo, homemade desserts and the very popular fire-grilled oysters have kept their restaurants in the headlines, but it’s the years of unnoticed service that makes Joe and David standouts in the community.

Through outreach, volunteerism, donations and sponsorships, Joe and David have been able to give back to area schools, athletics, churches charitable organizations and many other worthy causes. Every September 11 the restaurants offer a free lunch to all first responders in memory of those who lost their lives. Each year the restaurants also award 2 scholarships to high school seniors in memory of the late Chelsea Garvin, an employee of the restaurant who exemplified a giving spirit.

The Original Oyster House (OOH) has two locations, Mobile: 3733 Battleship Parkway, on the Causeway and Gulf Shores: 701 Hwy 59 on the Original Oyster House Boardwalk. Both locations offer spectacular waterfront views and have been celebrated as the area’s finest family restaurants for the past 30 years. The Original Oyster House is managed by Superb Foods, a management company of Geez Louise Boutique, OOH Trading Company and Joe & Dave’s Sauces and Seasonings. For more information about the Original Oyster House, visit or call 251-928-2620.

For more information visit

2015 Welcome Center Retreat partners registration open

The 2015 Welcome Center Retreat registration is open for partners around the state. The Retreat provides partners with direct access to Welcome Center employees from our 8 Alabama Tourism Department operated Centers.

Educational sessions include state tourism updates on social media, travel and health benefits.  The Retreat is November 8-10 in downtown Tuscaloosa at the recently opened Embassy Suites Hotel.

For registration, agenda and/or vendor information contact Tina Tones at the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission, 205-391-0957.

2015 Alabama-Mississippi Rural Tourism Conference

The 2015 Alabama-Mississippi Rural Tourism Conference will be held in Rogersville, AL, October 19-21, 2015 at Joe Wheeler State Park.

This conference is one of the best for the money. Discounted registration is only $95 if you register before Oct. 9. Register Here!

Learn and network with tourism professionals from Alabama and Mississippi.
For more information, go to:

Alabama artists and craftspeople

Alabama is home to a vast number of talented and creative artists and craftspeople 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 these artists and crafters and their products.  We are interested in the home-grown cottage industries rather than the industrial giants.

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

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

Oct. 19 – 21                            2015 Al-Miss Rural Tourism Conference, Rogersville
Nov. 8 – 10                              Welcome Center Retreat, Embassy Suites, Tuscaloosa


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