Tourism Tuesdays April 26, 2016

  • Tourism’s Barbecue campaign wins Best in South Addy Award
  • WSFA-12 Editorial: Alabama’s Tourism Industry
  • More than 2,000 have taken part in April Walking Tours
  • Alabama Tourism Workshop April 27
  • Nominations for Alabama Tourism Awards are open
  • Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama sets second highest attendance mark
  • Indy drivers Daly and Rossi enjoy day at NASA Space Camp
  • Alabama Music Hall of Fame hosts new exhibit
  • Irish company starts new Alabama tour
  • Alabama tourism video for Chinese being videotaped
  • Alabama promoted on several international Facebook accounts
  • Alabama Makers Market
  • There’s still time to take pretty outdoor pictures
  • Check your Vacation Guide listing today
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events



Tourism’s Barbecue Campaign wins Best in South Addy Award

The Alabama Tourism Department’s “The Year of Barbecue” campaign has won the American Advertising Federation’s regional Best of Show Addy Award with an opportunity for a second straight national award.

Luckie & Company of Birmingham developed the integrated campaign that featured magazine ads, a documentary, a book, digital ads, a smart phone app, in-market promotions and an exhibit featuring giant photographs of state pit masters that toured New Orleans, Memphis, Atlanta and Kansas City.  An eye-level billboard at the Memphis in May Festival that congratulated Memphis for having the “second” best barbecue in America was defaced, said tourism director Lee Sentell.  “Luckie replaced the torn billboard with a message congratulating Decatur’s Big Bob Gibson Barbecue for winning a top award in Memphis,” he said.

The tourism department commissioned Birmingham filmmaker Norton Dill to produce a one-hour documentary featuring 25 barbecue legends that aired on Alabama Public Television.  In a partnership with Alabama Media Group, the tourism department selected former Southern Living staff members Art Meripol and Annette Thompson to produce a book profiling 75 state barbecue restaurants.  The ad agency printed aprons, posters, t-shirts and other merchandise with the barbecue campaign logo. 

“We had a lot of fun with this campaign.  It generated a great deal of pride and traffic within the state’s large barbecue community,” said Sentell

The District 7 competition covered entries for all advertising categories from Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama, said Luckie creative director Brad White.

Luckie and Alabama Tourism received a national silver award last year from the American Advertising Federation for best book design that featured civil rights landmarks in the state. 


WSFA-12 Editorial: Alabama’s Tourism Industry

Editorial by Eric Duncan, general manager of WSFA- NBC 12 in Montgomery, on the Alabama Tourism Industry:

I often stand here and show you graphs or cite statistics that show Alabama at the bottom of any particular category. Well today I am going give you some positive news about our state, the region and an industry that is showing tremendous growth.

Tourism in Alabama has grown 86% since 2003.  Estimates show that statewide the tourism industry grew by 7.7% just last year, as more than 25 million visitors spent $12.6 billion.

In Montgomery County alone $777 million was spent and 11,981 jobs are in some way tied to tourism.  Montgomery County ranks fifth in total dollars in the state. If you include the entire River Region we would rank even higher.

City and county officials along with chamber leaders are to be commended for the effort to drive tourism to our region.  The RSA has had a huge impact on tourism with the building of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, along with other outdoor projects.  Even my parent company, Raycom, has gotten into the mix by bringing the Camellia Bowl to Montgomery two years ago and signing on for years to come.

According to a report by economist Dr. Keivan Deravi, without the dollars collected by the tourism industry each household in the state would end up paying $424 in additional taxes each year.

So next time you are at a Biscuits game, on an RTJ golf course, or at one of the many other events available to us, and you see an obvious out-of-towner enjoying it with you, say thanks. They just paid a small part of your taxes.

To watch this editorial online, go to:


More than 2,000 have taken part in April Walking Tours

More than 2,000 people across the state have taken part in the April Walking Tours with one more Saturday left. The towns who have reported their numbers include: Athens, 404; Huntsville, 310; Florence, 260; Fairhope, 242; Tuscumbia, 116; Mooresville, 98; Decatur, 91; Cullman, 74; Birmingham, 53; Shelby, 52; Madison, 51; Sheffield, 51; Foley, 44; Mobile, 38; Montgomery, 34; Columbia, 30; Moulton, 29; Elba, 28; Pell City, 25; Enterprise, 19; Prattville, 18; Selma, 18; Demopolis, 5; Heflin, 2.   

Some 26 towns across the state are participating in the April Walking Tours being coordinated by the Alabama Tourism Department each Saturday at 10 a.m.  A variety of community leaders are leading the free tours through the historic districts or courthouse square areas of their hometowns. 

Towns and starting places for the April Walking Tours are: Athens, Athens Visitor Center; Attalla, Gazebo (April 2, 9, 30); Birmingham, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Butler, Town Hall; Columbia, Old Bank Building (April 2 & 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 2 & 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 (April 9, 16, 23 & 30); Prattville, Prattaugan Museum; Selma, Selma-Dallas County Library; Sheffield, Sheffield Municipal Building; Shelby, Iron Works Park; Tuscumbia, ColdWater Bookstore.

The tours are being coordinated by Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department.  “Alabama is the only state in the nation to hold statewide, simultaneous walking tours.  These walking tours are a great way to get out and enjoy the spring weather and find out about the history of our state.  More than 30,000 people have participated in the walking tours since the beginning of the program thirteen years ago and they keep increasing in popularity every year,” Jones said.

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


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. 

As the date for the workshop is the same as for the quarterly tourism board meetings and both are being held in the same building, there is the possibility for meeting other members of the Alabama tourism industry.

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


Nominations for Alabama Tourism Awards are open

Nominations for the Alabama Tourism Awards are open.  The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, May 13.  Award categories include:  Attraction of the Year, Event of the Year, Organization of the Year, Welcome Center of the Year, Tourism Executive, Government Advocate, Media Advocate, Tourism Partnership, Rising Star, Themed Campaign, Governor’s Award and the Tourism Hall of Fame.

Please submit nominations to Cynthia Flowers via email at or mail to Alabama Tourism Department, Attention Cynthia Flowers, P.O. Box 4927, Montgomery, AL 36103. 

Awards will be presented at the Governor’s Conference on Tourism on Aug. 22 in Orange Beach. 5


Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama sets second highest attendance mark

By Tim Steere, Birmingham Business Journal, April 25

More than 83,765 fans attended the Honda Indy Grand Prix over the weekend, the second highest attendance in the race’s seven year history at Barber Motorsports Park.

Simon Pagenaud of France won the 90-lap Verizon IndyCar race on Sunday afternoon, the final event of an 11 race stretch throughout the weekend. The win at Barber marked Pagenaud’s second straight victory. Other races included Pirelli World Challenge GT racing and Indy Lights events.

To read this article online, go to:


Indy drivers Daly and Rossi enjoy day at NASA Space Camp

By Arni Sribhen,, April 22

Conor Daly and Alexander Rossi are Verizon IndyCar Series rookies, so many racing experiences this year are new to them. But the American pair experienced a whole new thrill in a visit Thursday to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center.

The two Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders experienced a day at Space Camp as astronauts that included landing an Orion capsule on the Martian moon Phobos, donning spacesuits to work in zero gravity and repairing the space station. They even took a turn on a multi-access trainer that spun and flipped them around and took an up-close look at the Saturn V rocket that helped power NASA astronauts to the moon.

“If it was possible to have any more respect for (astronauts) than I already do, I definitely gained that today,” said Rossi, driver of the No. 98 Castrol Edge/Curb Honda for Andretti Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian in this weekend’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in nearby Birmingham. “It’s a pretty crazy thing with very small margins of error. It was a spectacular experience and I’m glad we got to be here today.”

Daly joked he prepared for his visit to Space Camp at by watching “The Martian,” the 2015 feature film and Academy Award nominee for best picture starring Matt Damon as an astronaut left behind on Mars.

“I loved being here,” said Daly, driver of the No. 18 Jonathan Byrd’s Hospitality Honda for Dale Coyne Racing. “I really wanted to go to space before I came here, and now I really want to go even more. It’s so cool. I love everything about NASA and the idea of space travel. It was a really fun experience.”

To read this article online, go to:


Alabama Music Hall of Fame hosts new exhibit, April 22

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame will be celebrating Alabama’s Bluegrass heritage by hosing a special, temporary exhibit opening at noon Tues., May 3.

The custom made exhibit, designed by David Boley, president of the Alabama Bluegrass Music Association, will be unveiled at a ribbon cutting sponsored by Shoals Chamber of Commerce.

Boley, an Alabama Bluegrass expert from Leeds, will introduce the exhibit and answer questions.

Also present will be several inductees from the Alabama Bluegrass Hall of Fame.

“Since May is Bluegrass Month, this will be a great time to open the exhibit and honor this genre of music.” said Dixie Griffin, hall of fame manager. “This exhibit will be new to the museum and allow the Alabama Music Hall of Fame to host other Bluegrass events during the summer months.”

A mixer in celebration of this year’s Alabama Grammy winners is planned for Tuesday, May 10. Tickets are $25 and available at the hall of fame, 617 U.S. 72, or

To read this article online, go to:


Irish company starts new Alabama tour

Arrived in the state this week

TravellingTime, an Irish tour company arrived this week in Alabama with a group traveling on the company’s new GALA Tour.   The tour includes 7 nights in Alabama, the most ever offered by the company.

The tour comes after a February 4th meeting between Tourism Director Lee Sentell and Lynda Malia to discuss the company’s increased interest in Alabama. 

The group arrived in Alabama on April 26th in Montgomery to see the Hank Williams Museum and Railyard Brewing Company. After an overnight in the Capital City, the group will travel to Orange Beach for 4 days for beach time and to visit the Florabama and Pink Pony Club. Next on the trip is 2 nights in Mobile to see the USS Alabama, Dauphin Street and the Mobile Carnival Museum.  From Mobile the group travels to New Orleans to end their tour.

Travelling Times is best known in the Irish/UK market for their music tours and regularly brings groups to the Muscle Shoals area, which they recently increased to 3 overnights in the Shoals.  Another tour in the works by this company, and may launch next year, includes Tuscaloosa and other cities in North Alabama.

If the current GALA tour is successful, the southern part of Alabama could become a regular destination for the company.

For more information on how Alabama markets to the Irish and UK markets, contact


Alabama tourism video for Chinese being videotaped

One of two Chinese marketing efforts underway

As a move to enhance Alabama’s exposure to the huge Chinese tourism market, the Alabama Tourism Department has partnered with Brand USA on two programs, one of which is underway this week.

Vic Liang, native of Guangzhou Chine, and now lives in California, is in Alabama this week to videotape segments in three cities for a short video on Alabama tourism.

The locations being videotaped are the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum / Barber Motorsports Park and at Five Rivers Delta Safaris in Spanish Fort. The video will be in the Mandarin Chinese language.

In addition to the video, Alabama will have a Chinese language Internet site on, Brand USA’s tourism website in China. Information on more than a dozen Alabama tourism sites were submitted for translation and placement on an Alabama webpage in Chinese.

Both Chinese projects have been under development for almost a year.  The video was planned in 2015 but actual videotaping was held off until April of this year to showcase Alabama’s beautiful scenery.  The tourism sites for the were submitted in fall of 2015 and translation has been underway since.

The video and Alabama’s web pages will appear in the Chinese market later this year in time for 2016 US-China Tourism Year, an effort in which the U.S Department of Commerce is working with the China National Tourism Administration to foster tourism.

It is expected that 2.97 million Chinese travelers will visit the USA in 2016.

For more on how Alabama Tourism Department markets to the Chinese market, contact


Alabama promoted on several international Facebook accounts

A March 24 posting on Alabama’s scuba diving reached the highest number of people on the Travel South USA – Australian Facebook page for the entire month.  The Facebook account, aimed at the Australian market is part of the Travel South USA international marketing plan of which Alabama Tourism Department is a participating member.

The posting read:

Ever considered a diving holiday in Alabama? Alabama’s first purpose-sunk shipwreck, the LuLu, a sunken freighter – is 17 nautical miles south of Perdido Pass and Orange Beach, part of the largest artificial reef program in the United States. Pretty cool. Check out this video: Gary’s Gulf Dive Charters #uniquelysouth

Kent Marketing, Alabama’s shared in-market representative in Australia was responsible for the posting. The Facebook account, aimed at the Australian market is part of the Travel South USA international marketing plan of which Alabama Tourism Department is a participating member.

Alabama’s other shared representatives were busy on Facebook in March and April.  Facebook page Travel South Italia posted information on the three state trip that included Alabama by Simona Sacri.

Travel South USA France posted on civil rights sites in Selma and Montgomery.

Travel South Brasil (Brazil market) posted photo of Little River Canyon with message “Select a friend who you wish you were with in this paradise” and also a photo of a couple at Big Spring Park in Huntsville with caption “The good companies do the good times in the state of Alabama.”

For more information on how Alabama markets to internationally, contract


Alabama Makers Market

The Alabama Tourism Department is hosting its annual Alabama Makers Market on Thur., June 9, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.

Alabama Makers are being showcased in order for the owners/managers of Alabama Gift Shops to see firsthand the products created and crafted right here in Sweet Home Alabama. 

Meet with buyers from Alabama Gift Shops in order to wholesale product(s) to them. 

Makers need to register now for free booth space and owners/managers need to RSVP.

The market will be open to the public for retail sales as well.

To RSVP or register, contact Leigh Cross at:


There’s still time to take pretty outdoor 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.


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 Department (ATD) upcoming events

April 26, 5 – 8 p.m.                 Alabama Legislative Tourism Reception                    Montgomery

                                                RSA Activity Center, 201 Dexter Avenue, 36104

April 27                                   Alabama Tourism Department Workshop                  Montgomery

April 30                                   April Walking Tours

June 9, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.          Alabama Makers Market                                             Montgomery

                                                RSA Activity Center, 201 Dexter Avenue, 36104


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