Tourism Tuesdays May 3, 2016

  • More than 2,500 took part in April Walking Tours
  • Nominations for Alabama Tourism Awards are open
  • Alabama’s vibrant and bold local arts scene is unstoppable
  • Rain couldn’t keep crowds away from the action at Talladega Superspeedway
  • Brand USA promotes local story to Chinese international travelers
  • Visit Montgomery: driving, impressions and useful tips to discover the capital of Alabama
  • Montgomery and Deep South road trip, USA: Where food is not the only thing worth fighting for
  • Free after hours May 19 webinar announced on China Tourism
  • Alabama Mountain Lakes releases Waterfalls of North Alabama brochure
  • Muscle Shoals television series will be based on Rick Hall’s autobiography
  • Alabama Makers Market
  • There’s still time to take pretty outdoor pictures
  • Check your Vacation Guide listing today
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


More than 2,500 took part in April Walking Tours

More than 2,500 people across the state took part in the April Walking Tours program this year. The towns who have reported their numbers include: Athens, 474; Huntsville, 310; Fairhope, 295; Florence, 260; Tuscumbia, 124; Pell City, 110; Cullman, 101; Mooresville, 98; Madison, 94; Decatur, 91; Sheffield, 78; Foley, 55; Birmingham, 53; Shelby, 52; Prattville, 48; Mobile, 38; Moulton, 38; Enterprise, 37; Montgomery, 34; Columbia, 30; Elba, 28; Selma, 19; Birmingham, 17; Attala, 13; Demopolis, 5; Heflin, 2.    

Media coverage of the April Walking Tours included the Montgomery Advertiser, The Decatur Daily, Florence Times Daily, Moulton Advertiser, Cullman Times, The Demopolis Times, Dothan Eagle, News Courier, Selma Times Journal, Anniston Star, Courier Journal, Madison County Journal, Alabama News Center, WSFA-12 NBC Montgomery, WAAY-31 ABC Huntsville, WCFT 33-40 ABC Birmingham and WVTM-13 NBC Birmingham.

Some 26 towns across the state participated in the April Walking Tours that were coordinated by the Alabama Tourism Department each Saturday morning during April.  The free tours were based around the historic districts or courthouse square areas of the participating towns.  The hour-long tours started at 10 a.m. on April 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30.

Towns and starting places for the April Walking Tours were: 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 were 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


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


Alabama’s vibrant and bold local arts scene is unstoppable

By Mona L. Hayden,, May 2

It’s official: 2016 has been declared The Year of Alabama Makers by the Alabama Tourism Department to pay tribute to the craftsmanship and creativity of local artists, chefs, furniture makers, sculptors, winemakers, designers and innovators.

“The Year of Alabama Makers will celebrate everything from Gee’s Bend quilts, Mercedes SUVs and craft beer from the Back Forty brewery in Gadsden to Muscle Shoals music and Harper Lee novels,” says Brian S. Jones, public relations director of Alabama Tourism Department. “The department will be highlighting the people and companies who are bringing imagination and art together with commerce and manufacturing.”

The pinnacle of this proclamation is the Southern Makers festival, which encourages creativity and ingenuity by gathering the state’s best talent, or makers, in their respective trades. Makers and their supporters were expected to join forces for interaction and artistic inspiration April 30−May 1, with events in Montgomery, Mobile, Birmingham and Huntsville.

This should come as no surprise, since visitors to Alabama are often delighted to find a vibrant and bold art scene, especially in the cities of Birmingham and Mobile.


In Birmingham, art is commemorated in various ways, from fine museums to nationally noted culinary brilliance.

“From culinary arts to juried art festivals, Birmingham is filled with many artistic expressions of the city and the world,” says Dilcy Windham Hilley, vice president of marketing and communications at Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau. “One of our finest attractions is the Birmingham Museum of Art and its wide-ranging collections that represent cultures from many countries.”

In a city that appreciates art, The Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA) boasts an impressive 26,000-piece collection from ancient to modern times. Acclaimed as one of the country’s finest regional museums, BMA features paintings, sculpture and decorative arts from Pre-Columbian, Native American, American, European, Asian and African cultures.

The Charles W. Ireland Sculpture Garden exhibits colossal permanent pieces, including a water wall created by Elyn Zimmerman in the 13,000-square-foot upper plaza. An enclosed area in the center of the garden contains temporary exhibitions and art-making activities in the Lower Gallery. Numerous meeting sites, including garden spaces, can accommodate up to 1,000 guests for receptions and 300 for seated dinners, while the Steiner Auditorium seats 340 for meetings and presentations.

A unique and popular arts destination in Birmingham is the Naked Art Gallery. Its colorful walls and atypical approach to art have garnered attention from Turner South, The New York Times and Delta Sky magazine. The Naked Art Gallery has also been featured in the national travel guide, Eccentric America. The primary focus of this vibrant gallery is on function, meaning art that can be useful as well as aesthetically pleasing.

Featuring works by some 60 Southern artists who use mostly recycled materials, the gallery’s name encourages visitors to simply view art with the naked eye as opposed to veiled interpretations. Works here are reasonably priced because the gallery believes that everyone should be able to own art.

Space One Eleven is a visual arts organization that provides professional opportunities for artists, creates a forum for public understanding of contemporary art and offers arts education to area youth. The philosophy here is that art is wherever you find it because it is informed by place, time and experience. The organization is managed by artists and celebrates cutting-edge art that stretches the imagination. All of these principles are successfully incorporated into community programs sponsored by Space One Eleven.

The Abroms-Engel Institute for Visual Arts at University of Alabama at Birmingham houses university galleries, as well as its art and art history departments. Across the street is Alys Robinson Stephens Performing Arts Center, which shares public space with the institute. The Visual Arts Lecture Hall and lobby/atrium are also available for smaller group meetings and receptions.

The rolling hills of Alabama are home to the majestic Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa, which hosts a vast collection of art and photography by celebrity artists. The AAA Four Diamond resort was designed to resemble a grand castle. Adding to its facade, a kilted musician appears from the surrounding wooded area to entertain guests while playing the bagpipe.

The sparkling new Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook opened in October. Adjacent to Birmingham Botanical Gardens, the 100-room boutique hotel celebrates ingenuity and creativity throughout its spaces. Featured in the gallery are national, international and local artists, as well as culinary and wine-blending classes. The gallery often hosts exhibits and receptions, and all art at the Grand Bohemian is available for purchase.

With 12,000 sq. ft. of lavish meeting space, including a striking ballroom for up to 649 banquet guests, this site is exceptional with the inclusion of culinary team-building activities. Farm-to-table culinary offerings and rooftop dining with panoramic views add to the allure.

Culinary arts are equally prevalent in Birmingham. Groups can participate or simply observe at the hotel’s cooking school and open kitchen galleys. Its restaurants include the legendary Hot and Hot Fish Club, where eating spaces are designed to showcase works of well-known artists and sculptors. Other famed artisans have created harvest tables and chairs, an iron chandelier and a signature line of pottery dishware that is still in use.


A major cultural center along the Gulf Coast, Mobile lays claim to numerous art museums and galleries, a professional ballet company, an opera and a symphony orchestra. The city on the bay also is recognized for its historical and artistic architecture and frequent art, music, food and film festivals.

“Our ever-expanding creative community is a thriving, vibrant part of the Mobile experience,” says Stacy Hamilton, vice president of marketing and communications at Visit Mobile. “Mobilians are born to celebrate, from food to art and music. We are the birthplace of America’s Mardi Gras and our historic coastal city continues to be a metropolis inspired by a vibrant arts culture.”

Boasting historical and contemporary offerings, Mobile Museum of Art is the Gulf Coast’s largest museum between New Orleans and Tampa. Its impressive collection of 10,000 permanent works navigates centuries of art and culture, including 19th-century American landscapes and realist paintings from the Works Progress Administration era. This collection is so vast that the exhibit is displayed on a rotational basis.

The 95,000-square-foot lakeside museum also houses considerable collections from the Southern United States and Europe, in addition to non-Western art and contemporary works. The Mobile Museum of Art is a spectacular venue for up to 400, and there is additional theater space and a balcony that can hold up to 200. The Larkins Auditorium seats 80 at tables, 130 in chair rows and 100 standing guests; the conference room seats 22 with 10 additional side chairs. The first and second floor galleries can accommodate more than 400, and the entire museum can be leased for larger gatherings.

Alabama Contemporary Art Center in Cathedral Square focuses on novel and eclectic pieces with modern appeal. Visitors will enjoy wide-open views of downtown from the center, making it a scenic meeting venue. The Gulf Coast’s largest medley of local art, Cathedral Square Gallery showcases a range of pottery, ceramics and fine jewelry, as well as photography, woodwork and painted art in various media. The gallery hosts an annual juried art show called “Colors of the Coast” and also participates in the monthly ArtWalk with resident artists’ work displayed and available for purchase.

Art Festivals

On the second Friday of each month, the downtown entertainment district hosts ArtWalk, a celebration of artists, craftsmen and musicians that flood the area with their creativity. This highly anticipated event lures several thousand locals for a night of cultural camaraderie and entertainment.

Designated districts and artwalks have become increasingly popular, and fashionable galas unite communities and offer enrichment and appreciation for the arts. Groups can gallery hop to see the latest openings that quite often turn into a cultural street party. Arts Alive! is a fun-filled weekend celebration of the arts that is held each spring and fall at Greater Gulf States Fairgrounds.

This exciting festival highlights multimedia, visual and performing arts in various genres by local and regional artists, along with creative and interactive encounters for all ages. For more than 10 years, Arts Alive! has been instrumental in promoting art in Mobile and surrounding areas through profound creations and experiences that have benefited specific causes.

Wrapping Up

The influence of Alabama’s prolific art scene is evident in its communities and has become a main tourist attraction. Meeting groups are encouraged to experience the arts for themselves.

To read this entire article online, go to:


Rain couldn’t keep crowds away from the action at Talladega Superspeedway

By Solomon Crenshaw Jr.,, May 2

Duane Davidson drove 14 hours in an RV with three friends to be among the NASCAR enthusiasts at Talladega Superspeedway.

The Kansas City, Mo., resident has missed very few trips to his favorite campsite at Dove Ridge, across the street from the track. He’s been visiting since 1985.

What keeps him coming back?

“Talladega – the race track, the campground, the people,” he said. “We’ll be right here in this spot. You come back in October and we’ll be right here in this spot, only in October we’ll have the wives with us.”

More than 175,000 NASCAR fans descended upon Talladega and saw Brad Keselowski win a crash-fest Sunday in which two cars went airborne and 35 were part of accidents on the track.

“We were pretty full,” said public relations coordinator Sarah Hollingsworth. “Despite the weather, we were pretty packed out there today. Even after it started raining, there were fans up in the stands. They enjoyed it.”

“We’re looking at $37 million for the entire event,” said David Galbaugh, vice president of sports sales and marketing at the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Obviously not all those people stay in Birmingham, but in speaking with the people at Talladega, they really do think the vast number of people who come in from out of town utilize Birmingham as their place to stay.”

Brian Jones, public relations director of the Alabama Tourism Department, chimed in.  “The overall value of everything is a phenomenal thing that happens two weekends a year,” Jones said. “And there’s just a lot of publicity value in terms of having a large-scale sporting event that’s covered nationally by sports media and broadcast live. It’s great, positive coverage.”

Whether staying in a hotel in the region or in an RV on a campsite near the track – or in the infield – fans spend money. They buy food to cook, they buy food from restaurants, they fuel their vehicles and they buy souvenirs.

Fifty-eight-year-old Michael Burnett of Macon, S.C., is a roadside vendor and owner of Rudy’s Racing. He travels to 26 of the 36 races a year and has been coming to Talladega for 18 years.

“There’s a lot of people here (and) there’s a lot of sales to be made,” he said. “My father and I started this company 25 years ago and we got into the NASCAR races. This was one of the first tracks that we ventured out to sell our NASCAR wares.”

Burnett counts Talladega as one of his favorite stops – for the people and the chance to make money.

“It used to be a lot wilder than it is now,” he said. “But it’s just a great crowd. People come here to have a great time.”

Jasper’s Tommy Stone posed for a picture in front of the sign that welcomes patrons into the track. The 22-year-old said he came when he was younger but missed a few years; he’s been coming regularly the past 3-4 years.

“It’s a great experience, a great thing to come and do with your family,” he said. “It’s just a great place to come and have fun, let off some steam.”

Stone and his buddy Kevin Smith had ridden bicycles from their campsite in the infield.

“It’s not as crazy now,” Stone said of the infield experience. “I’ve heard stories from my dad. He’s been coming since he was little. I’ve heard it used to be real crazy out there.”

Rodger Cunningham drove a reconditioned, camouflage-painted school bus down from Paducah, Ky., for his employers at Clark Distributing Co. The vehicle sleeps six comfortably, has a full shower and toilet and has a 30-person observation deck on top.

“It’s been coming since 2004 and I think it came before that,” Cunningham said. “The company buys me a campsite and one of my friends pulls my camper down. They fly in Saturday and out on Sunday. I get to drive it down and drive it back.”

No doubt they and everyone else in the tri-oval had a good time.

To read this article online, go to:


Brand USA promotes local story to Chinese international travelers, May 2

Why China? More than 150,000 Chinese visitors are expected to travel to the Southeast this year.

“A Chinese language video is an important way for us to market Alabama to this booming market,” said Alabama Tourism Department International and Regional Director Grey Brennan.

China is the fourth-largest source market for in-bound tourism to the U.S. and is expected to become the No. 1 market by 2018. Chinese visitors spend on average $6,000 a person per trip, about 30 percent more than other inbound international travelers.

The on-location shoots are the culmination of months of collaboration between Brand USA and the Alabama Tourism Department, research collected from surveying Chinese international travelers, site location selection and content writing.

How does Alabama profit? Partnering with Brand USA…

1. Helps create jobs locally.

2. Increases business for area hotels/resorts, restaurants, attractions, retail, etc.

3. Promotes the local story directly to international travelers in enticing, affordable, authentic and high quality multimedia.

Who is Brand USA? Brand USA was first established after a decade of declining foreign visitors to the U.S. It provides a united voice that actively and intelligently promotes U.S. states, cities, national attractions, retail and other travel industry partners through its worldwide digital channels and consumer-facing brand, The GOAL? Reach 100 million international travelers to the U.S. by 2021.

The on-camera host and contributor, Vic Liang is originally from Guangzhou, China and now lives in Monrovia, CA.

The video is written and produced in Mandarin Chinese, not translated, which provides authenticity and a personal connection. Besides collecting b-roll around Mobile, Birmingham, Montgomery and Huntsville, Vic was videoed on camera and off at the Five Rivers Delta Safaris, Space and Rocket Center, Barber Motorsports Park and the Porsche Driving School.

Liang shares that “Brand USA attracts more Chinese travelers by introducing the beauty of Alabama in the Mandarin language and provides a reliable and trustful source to plan an Alabama trip accordingly.”

Partnering destinations like the Alabama Tourism Department will distribute the videos using their own marketing channels in addition to Brand USA’s distribution through:

• and its YouTube channels

• and Brand USA’s social media channels in China

• Brand USA’s in-country representatives to reach each country’s travel trade industry via trade shows, roadshows and training seminars.

Brand USA is in its fifth year of operation and now has 17 offices worldwide that promote to the 30+ international markets which in total generate 90% of U.S. inbound travel. Brand USA is reauthorized by Congress through 2020.

To read this article online, go to:


Visit Montgomery: driving, impressions and useful tips to discover the capital of Alabama

By Simona Sacred, April 18

In March of this year Italian journalist Simona Sacrifizi traveled through 3 southern USA states.  Her trip included Selma, Birmingham and Montgomery.  She has  posted a blog on the Visit USA Italian website about her Montgomery visit.  Her trip was coordinated by Travel South USA, Alabama’s shared representative in Italy, Grey Brennan of the Alabama Tourism Department and local Convention & Visitors Bureaus. 

This article has been translated using Google Translate

Welcome to Montgomery, Alabama

The major attractions of the city are concentrated almost all in the center, the downtown area that extends from Alabama River up to Alabama State Capitol.

Rosa Parks Library & Museum

The museum is located in the exact spot where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on the bus to a white man, triggering a series of events that led to the boycott of the Montgomery public bus network by African Americans for 382 days.  Within a year, the segregation of Montgomery city buses was abolished, thus was born officially the Movement for Civil Rights.

Civil Rights Memorial Center

In the same area you can visit the Civil Rights Memorial Center.  400 Washington Ave. A memorial museum in which the victims of racial persecution during the period of the Civil Rights Movement are remembered and honored.

Alabama State Capitol

Not far away is the Alabama State Capitol.  It was here, just up the large white staircase where Jefferson Davis was named the first and only President of the Confederacy in 1861.  Nearby you may visit the First White House of the Confederacy.

Old Alabama Town

Stroll down McDonough Street in a northerly direction and you will come to Old Alabama Town, a neighborhood of original homes and buildings of the first 800 perfectly preserved, a real leap in the life and habits of the antebellum South.

Old Oakwood Cemetery

Old Oakwood Cemetery is the resting place of many Confederate soldiers and also Hank Williams.  There is a splendid view on the city and the State Capitol dome from a hill in this cemetery.

Hank Williams Museum

The Hank Williams Museum is located in the heart of downtown.  Included here is his blue Cadillac, in which he was found dead on January 1, 1953, as well as much other memorabilia.

The Montgomery Riverfront is a short walk from the Hank Williams Museum and a cruise on the Harriott II riverboat is a treat.

Scott & Zelda Fitzgerold Museum

This is the house where the writer lived for about a year with his wife and daughter Zelda and Scottie.  It offers a taste of life in America in the early 1900s and some insight into the complex and fascinating relationship between Scott and Zelda.

To read the entire article in native Italian with photographs, go to: 

For information on how Alabama Tourism Department markets to the Italian market: contract


Montgomery and Deep South road trip, USA: Where food is not the only thing worth fighting for

By John Huxley,, April 29

In October, John Huxley was one of four top Australian journalists on a press trip that visited Muscle Shoals, Birmingham, Montgomery, Fairhope and Mobile.  Grey Brennan of the Alabama Tourism Department coordinated the trip with Alabama’s Travel South shared representative firm in Australia.

Turning a full circle, local guide Meg Lewis explains why she calls it her “360 degree” view of history. On this spot, she explains, stood one of the slave markets where, in the 1850s, “able field hands” were bought and sold for $US1500 each and “skilled artisans” for twice as much.

Over there, across the street, is the site of the office from which the telegram was sent to fire on Fort Sumter, thereby starting a Civil War in which 620,000 Americans lost their lives.

Up yonder, gleaming brightly, is the State Capitol where the Deep South formed the Confederacy and seceded from the United States. Nearby, is the first White House of the rebel states.

And in between stands the church where civil rights leader Dr Martin Luther King was once pastor, and the bus stop where 60 years ago a local black woman called Rosa Parks momentously refused to give up her seat to a white person.

Wow! Wave goodbye to Broadway, New York. Pack away your camera and put Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, on hold. When it comes to American history Dexter Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama, is darned hard to beat.

It is day four of a Deep South road trip, devised by Travel South USA, which has already exposed us to the colourful attractions of Nashville, Muscle Shoals and Birmingham.

By contrast, Montgomery seems quieter (despite the existence of Sous Le Terre, an underground nightclub that doesn’t open until midnight), slower, and, well, more cerebral, more stately – as befits a state capital, perhaps.

The First White House of the Confederacy offers a fascinating insight into the life and times of inaugural president Jefferson Davis and his family.  It was here, in 1861, that he prosecuted the South’s campaign, and his wife threw lavish parties.

In places, the elegant but comfortable home looks like a dolls’ house. As Czech-born guide Eva Newman reminds us, 150 years ago people were much shorter, though Davis, who stood almost six foot, or 182cm, had his own giant bed.

Neither Davis, nor his Italianate “White House”, lasted long: the capital was quickly moved to Richmond, Virginia, to be closer to the fighting, and Davis was captured and imprisoned until the war ended in 1865.

Visitors wanting to learn and see more of where the war was fought and lost should pick up the Alabama Civil War Trail leaflet, which offers more than 50 local sites ranging from museums to ironworks, armouries to cemeteries.

Appropriately, lunch is taken at the Davis Café, an unassuming, clapboard – indeed clapped-out – building, seemingly held together by industrial-strength tape.

But the food is to fight, if not die for. A local favourite is “meat and three”; that is, chicken, turkey, fish or BBQ ribs with three vegetables including tomatoes, collard greens, fresh purple hull peas, mashed yams and green lima beans.

The atmosphere is treacly hot, the helpings huge and the desserts miles off the calorie counter: banana pudding, sweet potato pie and four types of cake: pound, lemon, red velvet and yellow with chocolate icing.

Full, if not fighting fit, we return to Dexter Avenue to tour the Memorial Baptist Church, where as a young pastor Dr Martin Luther King was soon thrust into the civil rights movement.

We are welcomed by Wanda Howard Battle, with a hug and an invitation to join in a circle with her, hold hands, and sing a suitably uplifting song. From there we are shown the desk where Dr King did his paper work, the podium where he delivered sermons and fiery speeches

After another song and sway with the wonderfully hospitable Wanda, we drive away from the civic centre, to the Dexter Parsonage, where Dr King and his young family lived between 1954 and 1960.

It all looks very 1950s homely: a statement of domestic harmony, more or less, built round a comfy couch, a record player, a desk, a double bed, and a set of cups, saucers and other crockery.

Here, too, is the Bakelite telephone on which he received death threats from his racist enemies; a reminder that even in his modest house on quiet 315 South Jackson Street, Dr King and his family could not feel wholly safe. 

Many of his battles fought and won, Dr King was to die in 1968, assassinated in a Memphis, Tennessee, motel. He was just 39.

There is more, much more, to see, do and enjoy in Montgomery. A short walk from the banks of the Alabama River is a museum dedicated to legendary country music singer Hank Williams, who also died young, at 29, in the back of his sky-blue Cadillac.

Not far from downtown, in the upscale Cloverdale, is the period house where literary legends F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald briefly lived in the 1930s.

The leafy suburb also boasts excellent restaurants, such as A & P Social, which sources fresh crab, shrimp, oysters, snapper, tuna and grouper from the Gulf Coast, and high quality meat and veggies from farmers in the local Black Belt. 

Pick your time right and you can also enjoy one of Montgomery’s less likely attractions, an annual drama festival dedicated to the works of “The Bard”, called “Shakespeare Y’all!”

To read this article online, go to:


Free after hours May 19 webinar announced on China Tourism

The U.S. Department of Commerce has announced a free China tourism webinar. The May 19 webinar is titled, “Are you China-Ready? Southwest China Tourism Market Webinar.”

In 2014, China ranked as the 6th largest international tourism market for the United States. According to the National Travel and Tourism Office within the U.S. Department of Commerce, China is expected to become the largest source of overseas travelers to the United States by 2020.  The Alabama Tourism Department is investing in a Brand USA program to post Alabama tourism information on GoUSA web sites in China, in both traditional and simplified Chinese.

Tourism destinations, attractions, hotel staff and others interested in gaining best practices on how to cater to Chinese visitors and learn how to effectively market to Southwest China’s growing travel market register for the webinar may want to register for this webinar.

The 90 minute webinar will cover the following topics:

Overview of Southwest China Outbound Travel & Tourism Market

Speaker: Consul General Raymond Greene and Commercial Consul Eric Hus, US Consulate Chengdu

Best Practices from the travel & hospitality industry on how to be China-ready

How to receive Chinese guests in your hotel

Speaker: Richard Deutl, General Manager of St. Regis Chedgdu

How to effectively carter to the local market in promoting your destination

Speaker: Yaseen Yin, Travel Trade Manager, Choose Chicago Chengdu Office

Southwest China tourists’ habits and preferences and the impact of social media and digital marketing on Chinese tourists

Speakers: Ms. Lucy Wang, Vice GM of; Mus Judy Gao, GM of Chegdu Overseas Tourist

Date/Time of webinar, Thursday May 19, 7:00pm (Central Time), 90 min

To register, go to:  

For more information contact:, 801-524-3092.


Alabama Mountain Lakes releases Waterfalls of North Alabama brochure

Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association has released its newest brochure: Waterfalls of North Alabama. This beautiful brochure highlights 14 majestic waterfalls all over the region.

North Alabama marks the southern extremity of the beautiful Appalachian Mountains. The mighty Tennessee River cuts a large valley across our width, creating an abundance of creeks, streams, rivers, mountains, and lakes…and thus, waterfalls. Some of the locations highlighted in the brochure are Bankhead National Forest, Cane Creek Canyon, DeSoto Falls, Dismals Canyon, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Noccalula Falls, and so much more.

AMLA commissioned John Dersham to photograph the North Alabama waterfalls that are accessible to the public.

Dersham spent months capturing the beauty of these natural phenomenons.

In addition to the release of the brochure, AMLA Social Media Manager Melea Hames along with John Dersham will be featured on Absolutely Alabama with Fred Hunter. The waterfall episode will air May 13 at 10:30pm on FOX 6 in

Birmingham; May 14 at 5:30am on WFSA in Montgomery; May 15 on FOX 34 Dothan at 9:30pm; May 15 on WAFF-48 in Huntsville at 10:30pm; and May 15 on FOX 6 in Birmingham at 11:05pm. The episode can be found at as well.

Please call 800-648-5381 or go to to request a copy of the Waterfalls of North Alabama brochure.


Muscle Shoals television series will be based on Rick Hall’s autobiography

IM Global Television announced last week that it will produce a television series about the Muscle Shoals music industry.

The series, that will be produced by Johnny Depp, was inspired FAME Recording Studios founder Rick Hall’s autobiography “The Man From Muscle Shoals: My Journey from Shame to Fame.” The book chronicles Hall’s life from growing up dirt-poor to becoming a legendary record producer, publisher, songwriter and musician.

Hall was a key player in Muscle Shoals becoming known as “The Hit Recording Capital of the World” in the 1970s.

Among the iconic musicians who have recorded at FAME Studios are Aretha Franklin, The Osmonds, Wilson Pickett, Etta James, Mac Davis, Percy Sledge and Clarence Carter.

“Muscle Shoals is the spiritual breeding ground for some of the most iconic songs recorded in American history,” IM Global Music President David Schulhof said in a prepared statement “The songs recorded at FAME Studios would later be embraced and recorded by artists around the world for generations to come. We’re proud to share this epic journey and expect an incredible soundtrack to accompany this story.”

A release date has not been announced for the TV series.

The TV series is expected to spark a new wave of music related tourism for the Shoals and all of Alabama.


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

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

                                                RSA Activity Center, 201 Dexter Avenue, 36104

Aug. 20 – 23                           Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism             Orange Beach



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