Tourism Tuesdays April 5, 2016

  • Rally Wednesday for Helen Keller on $10 bill
  • Hundreds participate in the first of the April Walking Tours
  • Marketing campaign underway with UK firm
  • Huntsville and Muscle Shoals part of Brand USA German agent FAM
  • UK golf company Your Golf promotes RTJ
  • Black Belt of Alabama’s future in the hunt
  • Supreme Court rules against VictoryLand return
  • Wife of Brussels victim establishes Space Camp scholarship in husband’s honor
  • The New York Times: the sock queen of Alabama
  • Small zoo, BIG passion: The inspiring story behind the animals on the Gulf Coast
  • Remember to get outdoors and take pictures
  • Alabama represented in the nominee list for a USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice contest
  • The Grand Hotel names new GM
  • Check your Vacation Guide listing today
  • Alabama Tourism Workshop April 27
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Rally Wednesday for Helen Keller on $10 bill

By Bernie Delinski,, April 4

Supporters of a movement to have Helen Keller’s image on the new $10 bill will have a rally Wednesday in support of the drive.

The event, sponsored by the Helen Keller Foundation for Research and Education, begins at 10 a.m. at the Helen Keller Birthplace.  It is open to the public.

Sue Pilkilton, executive director of the birthplace at Ivy Green, said foundation members have contacted state tourism officials to help with the effort.

Pilkilton commended those who are involved.

“We’re just excited that they want to bring attention to the possibility of Helen Keller being put on the $10 bill,” she said.  “We’ll do anything they want to help with this promotion.”

The U.S. Treasury Department is redesigning the $10 bill, and Treasury officials said they want a woman’s face on it.  Keller is among numerous American women mentioned as possibilities.

Mayor Bill Shoemaker said the idea originated from Easton, Connecticut, Selectman Bob Lessler because Keller lived in the Connecticut city for many years.

Keller was born June 27, 1880, in Tuscumbia.  She achieved many feats during her lifetime despite being unable to see or hear.  She died June 1, 1968.

In November, the Perkins School for the Blind threw support Keller’s way when it published on its website 10 reasons she should be on the bill.

Among the reasons:

  • The bill will be the first tactile currency in the nation designed so people who are visually impaired can identify it.
  • Keller was a major figure in women’s rights movements and believed in equality for everyone.
  • She wrote 12 books and many articles on various issues.
  • She met every sitting U.S. president from Grover Cleveland to Lyndon B. Johnson, and received the Medal of Freedom from Johnson in 1964.

To read the entire article, go to:


Hundreds participate in the first of the April Walking Tours

More than 680 people across the state took part in the first of the April Walking Tours last Saturday. The towns who have reported their numbers include: Huntsville, 235; Florence, 115; Fairhope, 76; Shelby, 43; Cullman, 32; Decatur, 30; Tuscumbia, 29; Athens, 28; Columbia, 17; Mooresville, 17; Montgomery, 12; Moulton 12; Sheffield, 12; Foley, 9; Selma, 6; Elba, 4; Enterprise, 4; Demopolis 3.  

Some 27 towns across the state are participating in the April Walking Tours being coordinated by the Alabama Tourism Department each Saturday morning this month.  A variety of community leaders are leading the free tours through the historic districts or courthouse square areas of their hometowns.  The hour-long tours start at 10 a.m. on April 9, 16, 23 and 30.

Towns and starting places for the April Walking Tours are: Athens, Athens Visitor Center; Atmore, Heritage Park; Attalla, Gazebo; Birmingham, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Butler, Town Hall; Columbia, Old Bank Building (April 9 only); Cullman, Cullman County Museum; Decatur, Rose Garden at Delano Park; Demopolis, Downtown Square; Elba, Chamber of Commerce; Enterprise, Farmers Market; Fairhope, Fairhope Welcome Center; Florence, various locations; Foley, Welcome Center; Heflin, Tom and Rebecca’s Park.

Huntsville, Constitution Village (April 9 only); Madison, Madison Roundhouse (April 16 & 23 only); Mobile, Cathedral Basilica; Montgomery; Montgomery Area Visitor Center; Mooresville, Mooresville Post Office; Moulton, Lawrence County Archives; Pell City, Public Library; Prattville, Prattaugan Museum; Selma, Selma-Dallas County Library; Sheffield, Sheffield Municipal Building; Shelby, Iron Works Park; Tuscumbia, ColdWater Bookstore.

More information about the April Walking Tours is available on the Alabama Tourism Department website at


Marketing campaign underway with UK firm

5 new tours include Alabama

A marketing campaign underway with, a UK tour operator, promotes five new fly-drive tours of the South.  Alabama is part of each of the tours.

The three-month campaign includes advertising in the May edition of Times Travel Magazine, an electronic message to 65,000 potential travelers and a banner message on website linking to the 5 fly-drive tours.

The promotion and tours are results of meetings at Travel South, work by UK in-market representative Della Tully, and efforts of the Deep South alliance in the UK.

Four of the tours are named after the state’s included.  Both the Alabama & Louisiana tour and the Alabama & Mississippi tour include four Alabama cites; Huntsville, Birmingham, Montgomery and Mobile.

Two more tours include three Alabama cities each. The Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana tour includes Huntsville, Montgomery and Mobile while the Alabama, Tennessee & Kentucky tour includes Montgomery, Birmingham and Huntsville.

The Sample of the South tour includes Mobile and Montgomery.

To see the tours, go to


For more information on Alabama Tourism Department’s efforts in the UK, contact:


Huntsville and Muscle Shoals part of Brand USA German travel agent tour

A group of selected German travel agents will be visiting the south on a Brand USA sponsored tour this summer.  The group will be visiting sites in Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama on the tour in June.  The Alabama destinations include Huntsville and Muscle Shoals.

Brand USA Germany conducts trade tours with the Willy Scharnow Foundation, which is renowned in German tourism.

The routing from Knoxville to Memphis allows for inclusion of North Alabama.

The tour will feature 12 agents to be selected by Brand USA and the participant states.  There will also be one Brand USA and one Willy Scharnow representative on the tour taking place June 2 to 9. 

Huntsville and the Muscle Shoals area will be visited by the group on June 5 and 6.  Textransfer Communications staff member Raphael Tenschert will escort the group at Alabama attractions and functions on both days. Textransfer is the German In-Market firm for the Alabama Tourism Partnership.

Last year, the Alabama Tourism Department worked with Brand USA on a UK Travel Agent tour that visited Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.  On that tour three Alabama cities where featured, Selma, Montgomery and Birmingham.

For more information on Alabama Tourism Departments marketing efforts in Germany, contact


UK golf company Your Golf promotes RTJ Golf Trail

Plans Visit

After meeting with Grey Brennan and Della Tully at World Travel Market in 2014 and 2015, UK golf company Your Golf Travel has increased the number of trips they offer featuring Alabama’s Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.  The company now offers several tours featuring the RTJ Golf Trail and has just added before or after add-on trips to RTJ sites as part of their tours to the Masters Golf Tournament.

Robin Couchman, the company’s product manager, is visiting RTJ Golf Trail sites in Montgomery, Birmingham, Florence and Gadsden on April 10-15 to see first-hand the Capital Hill, Ross Bridge, Oxford Valley, Fighting Joe and Silver Lakes courses.

Your Golf sends 200,000 UK golfers worldwide each year.  They have a database of 350,000 golfers and reach additional golfers via Sky TV and Todays Golfer.

To see Your Golf’s Alabama page, click on

To see Your Golf’s dedicated RTJ page, click on

To see the Your Golf RTJ Masters promotion, click on


Black Belt of Alabama’s future in the hunt

By Marty Roney, Montgomery Advertiser, April 2

Bob Redfern shouldered a 20-gauge Browning shotgun recently during a covey rise on a picture-perfect morning in the heart of Alabama’s Black Belt.

Two shots later, one quail was down.  Redfern is host and president of “Bob Redfern’s Outdoor Magazine,” a television series that airs on the Pursuit Channel, Fox Sports South and WWMB TV 21 out of Florence and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

“You couldn’t ask for a better day,” Redfern says into the camera.

Redfern’s home base is Blythewood, S.C., and he was filming a show at Shenandoah Plantation, guest of owners Tom and Sue Ellen Lanier.

And getting the word out about the Black Belt being an outdoors paradise is key, said Mike Perrin, of the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association.  Formed in 2009, the association works to lure tourist dollars to the 23 counties of the Black Belt.

Named for its rich, dark soil, the Black Belt is a crescent shaped swath that bisects the middle of Alabama from Tuscaloosa County in the west, through Dallas and Lowndes counties to Russell County in the east.

This is where King Cotton reigned in the antebellum era and beyond.  It was here a century later that the modern Civil Rights era started with the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the state, there’s also a dark side to the Black Belt. Generations of bone-crushing poverty means the region perennially appears on lists of the poorest communities in the nation.

The association wants to change that.  One hunt, one fishing trip, one outdoor journey at a time.

The Black Belt offers prime agricultural opportunities because of its magic soil.  But manufacturing and economic development opportunities are scarce.

The numbers are staggering.  A study done for the association shows hunters and anglers spend $5 million a day or about $1.7 billion a year in the state.  The Black Belt’s share of that cash cow is an estimated $3.2 million a day with total economic spending of about $1 billion a year when you factor in the ripple effect.  That includes money spent on stops at gas stations, trips to restaurants and supplies used to run the commercial outfits.

And running the lodges is a year-round operation, said John Cameron, co-owner of Cameron Quail Preserve in Aliceville.  Aliceville is on the far western rim of the Black Belt, near the Mississippi line.  The Camerons started hosting hunters in 1974.  Their 1,600 acres is extensively managed for quail habitat. But the business also offers deer and quail combination hunts, trail rides and fishing trips.  There is also a sporting clay target range on the preserve and in 2003 the lodge and preserve began hosting events such as weddings and class reunions.

“I’d say 90 percent of our business is quail hunting,” Cameron said.  “But we’ve branched out offering more things to do over the years.  It doesn’t matter what time of year it is.  There is always something to do.

“We spend money in Livingston, Gordo – all these small towns around here.  If it wasn’t for the hunting and fishing, you wouldn’t have nearly the business we do have in the Black Belt.”

On average, the preserve has 1,000 to 1,200 clients a year.  And the farthest a hunter has come is from Johannesburg, South Africa.

So what brings a man half-way around the world to Aliceville, Ala.?

“Good birds and good dogs,” Cameron said with a laugh.

The ABBAA’s effort is paired with the Retirement Systems of Alabama, and RSA’s efforts to boost economic development in the state.  It’s a perfect partnership, said Dr. David Bronner, head of the state pension fund.  He points to RSA’s ownership of Raycom Media and Community Newspaper Holding’s Inc.

“We cover 14 percent of America’s population with the TV sector alone,” he said.  “With CNHI we have 100 newspapers from Massachusetts to Texas.  That gives us the ideal opportunity to get the word out about the tourism opportunities in Alabama.  Whether those opportunities are playing really great golf on the Robert Trent Jones Trail or taking part in really great outdoors opportunities in the Black Belt.

“Economic development is good for the entire state.  Tourism is now a $12 billion a year industry in Alabama.  That’s up more than $10 million a year from when we started the Robert Trent Jones Trail.”

Back in Union Springs, the future of outdoor tourism for the region is as bright as a crystal-clear spring sky, Lanier says.

“We are growing every year, and I’m sure other commercial lodges are seeing the same thing,” he said. “We have a lot of repeat customers, people that come back year after year.  But we are also seeing more and more new clients, and a lot of them say they heard about the Black Belt through the advertising program the association is doing.”

Big bucks in outdoor tourism:

  • Alabama’s Black Belt covers more than 10 million acres.
  • Sportsman spending in the Black Belt creates 11,000 jobs.
  • Of the commercial, outfitters in the state, 80 percent are located in the Black Belt.
  • Outdoors spending in the Black Belt tops $3.22 million per day.
  • Total spending, when you factor in the ripple effect, totals almost $1 billion a year.

Source: Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association

To read this article online, go to:


Supreme Court rules against VictoryLand return

By Kim Chandler, The Associated Press / AL State Wire, Mar 31

The Alabama Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that electronic gambling machines seized from VictoryLand in 2013 are illegal and the justices chided casino owners for trying to masquerade the devices as “bingo.”

In a sternly written opinion, the justices said that the electronic devices, which resemble slot machines, were not what was intended by state laws allowing card and paper type bingo games.

“Today’s decision is the latest, and hopefully the last, chapter in the more than six years’ worth of attempts to defy the Alabama Constitution’s ban on “lotteries.” It is the latest, and hopefully the last, chapter in the ongoing saga of attempts to defy the clear and repeated holdings of this Court beginning in 2009 that electronic machines like those at issue here are not the “bingo” referenced in local bingo amendments,” justices wrote.

The state in 2013 seized 1,615 of the slot-like machines and $260,000 in cash during a raid at VictoryLand.

However, owner Milton McGregor won a victory when Circuit Judge William Shashy ruled in 2015 that it was unfair to shut down VictoryLand when other casinos remained open. Shashy said the state should return the machines unless actions were taken against other casinos.

The Supreme Court overturned Shashy and ruled that the state could keep the seized devices and cash.


Wife of Brussels victim establishes Space Camp scholarship in husband’s honor

By Lucy Berry,, April 4

The wife of a Brussels bombing victim hopes to inspire a new generation of space lovers with the launch of a Space Camp scholarship in memory of her husband.

Cameron Cain last week established the scholarship fund to honor 29-year-old Alexander Pinczowski, who was killed March 22 in Brussels Airport with his younger sister, Sascha, as they were boarding a flight to New York City. Cain is the daughter of former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark James P. Cain.

The Space Camp scholarship is a fitting tribute to Pinczowski because he “knew everything there was to know about space,” Cain said.

“He could identify all the stars, and he built planetary systems when he was a kid,” she said. “He loved Carl Sagan’s ‘Pale Blue Dot’ book and would quote passages from it.  He would say ‘space exploration is what we need to focus on.'”

Space Camp at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville has more than 700,000 graduates, many of whom pursue careers in science, engineering, medicine, aviation and education. The 34-year-old program allows children ages 9 to 18 to apply for scholarships like the the Alexander Pinczkowski Memorial Scholarship Fund.

“This seems so like him,” Cain added.

To make a donation to the Alexander Pinczkowski Memorial Scholarship Fund, visit

To read this article online, go to:


The New York Times: the sock queen of Alabama

In Alabama, new life for the onetime sock capital of the world

By Steven Kurutz, The New York Times, March 29

Nine years ago, when she was 27 and unhappily selling real estate, Gina Locklear went to her parents with a proposition. She wanted to make socks. Not the basic white socks the family had specialized in, but fashionable socks, with organic cotton and dyes.

“I want to get into the sock business,” she told them. “I want to make a sustainable sock.”

Ms. Locklear, now 36, grew up in the business. Her parents, Terry and Regina Locklear, started a mill in Fort Payne, Ala., in 1991. They made white sport socks for Russell Athletic, millions of them, destined for big-box stores and your own feet if you took gym class.

The mid-2000s was a devastating period for Fort Payne. Nestled in the state’s mountainous northeast, the town of 14,000 had for decades billed itself as “the Sock Capital of the World.” The cushioned sock was invented here, and one in every eight pairs of socks sold globally was said to be knitted in Fort Payne.

At the industry’s peak in the 1990s, more than 120 mills employed roughly 7,500 workers. But cheap foreign labor and free-trade agreements made the town a loser in the game of global economics. Seemingly overnight, the mills closed, and the new Fort Payne became a town in China called Datang. The 2008 financial crisis finished off those who were still hanging on.

“It was like a vacuum cleaner pulled all the people out of town,” Terry said.

The Locklears held on to their mill, but barely. Orders dried up, including those from Russell Athletic, and they cut the work force to almost nothing. Terry’s goal was to keep the lights on, because he knew if he and Regina closed the doors and turned the power off, they’d never start back up.

“We’d just come here and sit,” Terry said. “We would talk, and it was, like, ‘I just don’t know what we’re going to do.’ We still had our knowledge.”

It was during these depths that Gina approached her parents with her idea. While almost everyone else in the sock business was being thrown to the exits, she passionately wanted in. “I was 12 when my parents started making socks,” Gina said. “And the realization that our family business might close made me mad.”

Her parents were skeptical. They knew how hard it was to compete and how much money it would take to start a brand. They didn’t get the whole organic thing. Most of all, they didn’t want their oldest daughter to do something she’d soon regret or tire of.

“But it’s been everything except any of that,” her father said.

Her mother added: “She absolutely loves what she does. She’s on fire.”

Last fall, Martha Stewart and the editors of Martha Stewart Living presented Gina with an American Made award, which they give each year to a few artisans and small-business owners to provide a boost of recognition.

“Encouraging the American public to buy American-made matters,” Ms. Stewart said. “The more socks she sells, the more people she can employ.”

Besides, “It’s a sensible business,” Ms. Stewart said. “Everyone needs socks. Women are wearing socks as a fashion statement like never before. Turn the pages of Vogue and almost every fancy dress is worn with a pair of socks.”

Pointing to a machine that was noticeably different from the others, she said: “It’s the newest sock machine you can get. It’s made in Italy. It’s like a Ferrari.”

She spotted Vance Veal, Emi-G’s plant manager, and waved him over. When her parents laid off all but their most vital workers, they kept him on the payroll. Mr. Veal, 48, has worked in sock mills since he was 18. His grandparents, mother and brothers worked in the mills, too.

Since Gina came along with her six-color fashion socks, he has made the machines do things no one at Emi-G thought possible, himself included. “We didn’t used to make pattern socks,” Mr. Veal said. “Gina keeps me on my toes. She’s made me better at what I do.”

Last year, Emi-G downsized its work force from 45 to 30. If there is a customer service issue, Gina handles it herself — in addition to ordering yarn, designing both lines, doing social media marketing, processing credit card orders and lying awake nights with worry.

Gina was back at the mill by 8:30 the next morning, logging orders from store buyers and considering ideas for the next Little River line, which she develops with a designer in Birmingham. “We’re thinking about Appalachian florals,” she said.

She talked about the challenges she faces, from getting organic cotton at a good price to wanting a family but not knowing how, since she spends so much time at the mill. “I’ll just be honest, it’s been a struggle,” she said.

But she is determined to keep going, to make Fort Payne a place where socks are once again made by the millions.

“It’s hard every day but I still love it,” she said. “It’s what I want to do forever.”

To read this entire article online, go to:


Small zoo, BIG passion: The inspiring story behind the animals on the Gulf Coast

By Devan Coffaro, Fox 10 News, reported on WSFA-TV 12, March 31

One of the most unique characteristics of Gulf Shores is the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo. It’s the only zoo you’ll find on the coast without going to another state.

FOX10 news reporter Devan Coffaro tells us why the zoo has caught attention from around the world.

About 500 animals call the zoo home.

“The animals just love people,” said zoo director Patti Hall. “We are such a small zoo, that it’s sort of like a hometown. It’s like going into someone’s home and seeing all their animals.”

Despite it being a small zoo, it’s gained media attention from all over the world and it all started with Hurricane Ivan in 2004.

“We knew that storm was headed straight towards us and the animals would never have survived,” said Hall.

So she did what anyone would do… she packed up the animals one by one and brought them to her home on a ten acre property in Elberta.

Local business donated delivery trucks and zookeepers rented as many U-Hauls as they could. They also created makeshift cages for all 287 animals.

Hall also had all the zookeepers, their families and their personal pets stay on the property too.

“We had a monkey living in the house and baby tigers swimming in the swimming pool,” said Hall. “We were without power for five days and that was the hardest because we had to keep the meat for the cats, the carnivores, as fresh as possible.”

Hall tells us they were the first zoo in recorded American history to execute a full scale evacuation… except for the alligators.

Chucky the alligator made national headlines after getting loose from his cage during Ivan.

“There was 17 feet of water and he just floated up out of his exhibit when the water went down, he was on the other side of his exhibit.”

He was found near the zoo a few days later, but this twelve foot alligator caught the attention of Animal Planet.

The network giant created a show called “The Little Zoo That Could,” documenting the staff’s tireless efforts to rebuild.

From that point on, the zoo changed. People from all over the world started visiting, but the troubles weren’t over. In fact, they had to evacuate two more times.

That’s why the nonprofit organization is raising money for a newer, bigger location about four miles inland.

Hall says they need $16 million and about $3 million has been donated so far. They’ve been building new exhibits in the area as they go. All in the hopes that the little zoo that could will become the little zoo that did.

“If you leave here were just a little bit more respect for animals than when you walked in, then we did our job.” 

To read this story online, go to:


Remember to get outdoors and take pictures

To paraphrase an old song, Alabama’s Bustin’ Out All Over.  That means it’s time to get those cameras out and take pictures.  Here are a few helpful hints on how to get the best images for your efforts.

Take only interior images between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Old Sol is just too brutal at that time of day to get good outdoor shots.  When shooting exteriors make sure the sun is shining on the object of your lens.  Taking a picture in the afternoon of anything facing east doesn’t usually yield good results.

Also, attractive people can add a lot of interest to your images.  Make sure they’re wearing solid and bright-colored clothing.  Shorts and blue jeans should be worn only when they are appropriate to the location and/or event.  Have them face the camera and appear to be having a wonderful time – if they’re really having a great time that’s a bonus.

In tourism, as in real estate, it’s all about location, location, location.  Try to frame the images so that the location, attraction, event or other subject is obvious to the viewer.

Of course the Alabama Tourism Department always wants to get new images so, once you’ve captured all those green trees and flowering shrubs with your camera, you can send them to us.  We are looking for images that are at least 4” X 6” and 300 dpi.

Contact Peggy Collins at 334-242-4545 OR for information on how to send them.


The Grand Hotel names new GM

Hosting guests since 1847, the Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa begins the next chapter in its history with the announcement of a new general manager. Scott Tripoli brings more than 19 years of hospitality experience from Orlando to his new position at the Grand Hotel. Tripoli started at the Grand Hotel on March 19.

Prior to arriving at the Grand Hotel, Tripoli was the General Manager of the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld, a 1,000 room hotel on International Drive in Orlando at the entrance to SeaWorld. He held that position since August 2013. Before working at the Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld, he was the General Manager at Crowne Plaza Orlando Universal near Universal Studios.  Tripoli worked for Interstate Hotels and Resorts for 19 years in various roles including Regional Director of Operations and General Manager.

“I continue to be impressed by the great team at the Grand Hotel and the Southern Hospitality offered by the local community,” Tripoli said. “Through combining my tourism background in Orlando with the historic traditions of the beloved Grand Hotel, guests can expect great experiences during their visits. I am excited about this opportunity and have left the Orcas and roller coasters in Orlando and already embraced the pelicans, jubilees and sunsets in Point Clear.” 

In addition to his employment, Scott was highly involved in the local Orlando business community.  Tripoli is a past chairman and served as a board member for the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association for 10 years.  He also served on the boards of the International Drive Resort Area Chamber of Commerce and the international tourism organization Skal Orlando, where he served as president in 2013/14. Scott and his wife Stephanie have two daughters.  Kayla is a senior at Florida State University and Alexandra is a senior at Freedom High School in Orlando.

The Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa is part of the RTJ Golf Trail’s Resort Collection and a member of the Historic Hotels of America. The Grand Hotel has 405 guest rooms and 37,000 square feet of meeting space. For more on the Grand Hotel, visit

Media Contact – Bill Lang –; (205) 965.9574. Glad to arrange interviews.


Alabama represented in the nominee list for a USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice contest

The nominees for Best Historic Small Town and Best Coastal Small Town 2016 were announced and Alabama represents 2 of the finalists competing for a spot in the winners list.

The famous Bloody Sunday conflict, when police attacked peaceful civil rights demonstrators, took place at this bridge in Selma, Ala., in the 1960s. The Edmund Pettus Bridge has become a metaphorical bridge, too – a bridge between the old and the new, a representation of the major changes in the nation at that time. After thousands of demonstrators marched across this bridge and onward to Montgomery, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was passed and Selma’s historic significance was cemented.  Selma is number 13 of 20 in Best Historic Small Towns.

Visitors to Gulf Shores, at the heart of the Alabama Gulf Coast, will be met with sugary-white sand beaches, Southern-style fresh seafood, championship golf courses and nearly any water sport you can imagine, thanks to the many nearby back bays and rivers. Preserves and state parks protect much of the region make Gulf Shores an ideal base for a natural coastal escape.  Gulf Shores is number 8 of 20 in Best Coastal Small Towns.

Prior campaigns have seen a full range of social media influencers: a US Senator, Governors, mayors, and – of course – those already loyal to the nominees.  I’m sure nominees would appreciate the support of Alabama during their campaign to win.

Voting ends for these categories on Mon., April 25, at 10:59 a.m.  You can rock the vote at and of course we encourage you to share the contest URL with your social network. The public can vote once per day, per category.

To follow live voting action (and discover the most active campaigns for award categories), search #10BestChoice on Twitter (we are @10Best).  Some contests also have custom hashtags, which you will discover.  You can also find the contests on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

In addition to these here are more Alabama sites in the USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice contests.


Best Cave

Alabama has two caves that have made this list.  They are Cathedral Caverns in Woodville, and DeSoto Caverns in Childersburg.


Visitors to Cathedral Caverns in Alabama pass through a massive opening 126 feet wide and 25 feet tall into a cool wonderland of cave formations. One of the highlights at this state park is a 45-foot tall, 243 feet in circumference stalagmite appropriately named Goliath — one of the largest formations of its kind on the planet. Cathedral Caverns is presently at number 9.


Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, DeSoto Caverns has a main chamber 12 stories high and larger than a football field. Rock formations within the caverns are actively growing and include one of the world’s largest accumulations of onyx-marble stalagmites and stalactites. If the cave itself isn’t enough of a draw, the DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park also includes a maze, mini golf, bumper cars, a climbing wall and several other attractions and activities.  DeSoto Caverns is currently at number 7.


Voting ends for these on April 10, at 10:59 a.m.

To vote for these, go to:


Best Underwater Attraction

The LuLu was purpose-sunk off the coast of Orange Beach, Ala. on May 26, 2013, making it the state’s first full-ship diving reef. The 271-foot retired coastal freighter now sits 115 feet below the sea’s surface, where divers can spot red and mangrove snapper, amberjack, grey triggerfish, gag grouper and king mackerel.

The Lulu is currently number 1 of 20.  Voting ends for this category on April 10, at 10:59 a.m.

To vote for the Lulu, go to:

Best Archaeological Site

Perched on the Black Warrior River in the heart of Alabama, Moundville — one of the largest Mississippian towns in the South — was occupied from around 1000 to 1450 AD. What remains of the 300-acre village are a series of earthen mounds and more than 200 artifacts, now on display in an on-site museum.


Voting ends on April 11, at 10:59 a.m.

To vote for Moundville, go to:


Check your Vacation Guide listing today

If you have an attraction, outdoor, bed and breakfast, cabin or golf course listing featured in the Alabama Vacation Guide, please check and update the information.  Review your listing in the 2016 Vacation Guide.


Contact us with changes as soon as possible.  If you would like to add a listing, please contact: Pam Smith at 334-353-4541.


Alabama Tourism Workshop April 27

The Alabama Tourism Department will host the semi-annual Tourism Workshop in Montgomery on Wed., April 27. 

This workshop is for new tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in their area. 

For additional information, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or via email at Rosemary.Judkins@Tourism.Alabama.Gov

Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events

April 9, 16, 23 & 30                April Walking Tours

April 27                                   Alabama Tourism Department Workshop                  Montgomery



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