Tourism Tuesdays August 9, 2016

  • Alabama Restaurant Week to kick off across the state
  • Tourism speakers named for conference
  • Alabama Tourism launches blog
  • Gulf State Park lodge second phase, Hilton agreement approved
  • State Tourism part of receptive sales mission
  • Alabama craft beer advocates vow to work with ABC on controversial proposal
  • New York Times features Big Bob Gibson’s White Barbecue Sauce
  • Eureka! The Science of Archimedes now open at the Space & Rocket Center
  • Mark your calendars for the Alabama Tourism Workshop October 5
  • Alabama Tourism Department (ATD) upcoming events


Alabama Restaurant Week to kick off across the state
Montgomery Advertiser, Aug. 8

More than 170 restaurants will offer lunch and dinner discounts to encourage customers to try new dishes during the fifth annual Alabama Restaurant Week from Aug. 12 to Aug. 21, state tourism officials announced.

The two-course lunch specials will range from $5 to $15, while three-course dinners will cost from $10 to $30, not including tax, tip and drink. Restaurants have the option of offering specials at both lunch and dinner or choosing to offer just lunch or just dinner specials.

“This is a great opportunity for people to try restaurants in their hometown and other places in the state while saving money,” said Alabama Tourism Department Marketing Director Grey Brennan. “There are no coupons or discount books to buy or bring. Diners at the participating restaurants simply ask for the Alabama Restaurant Week special.”

Restaurants that have signed-up to offer the specials include favorites like Cotton Row in Huntsville, Highlands Bar and Grill in Birmingham, The A&P Social in Montgomery, The Trellis Room in Mobile and LuLu’s in Gulf Shores. Multiple locations of Baumhower’s across the state are also participating.

Restaurants in more than 25 cities across the state have been included in Alabama Restaurant Week. Cities with participating restaurants include: Athens, Atmore, Auburn, Bessemer, Birmingham, Centre, Cullman, Daphne, Decatur, Gulf Shores, Homewood, Hoover, Huntsville, Leeds, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Mountain Brook, New Market, Northport, Orange Beach, Pell City, Selma, Semmes, Spanish Fort, Troy, Tuscaloosa and Vestavia Hills.

A full list of participating restaurants and the specials they are offering can be found at

Follow all the action during Alabama Restaurant Week on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at #DineAlabama16.

 To read this article online, go to:

Tourism speakers named for conference

Author and marketing consultant Bill Geist and national tourism expert Darienne Mobley will headline the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism being held Aug. 21-23 at the Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, officials announced.

Lucy Buffett and George Martin will also be at the conference to give an inside look at the success of LuLu’s restaurant which serves more than one million guests a year at their two locations.

“More than 275 tourism professionals from across the state will be attending this three-day educational conference,” said state tourism director Lee Sentell.  “This is our opportunity to bring in experts to present the latest trends in tourism marketing. Tourism is a $12.6 billion industry in Alabama and has shown an increase of 86 percent over the previous 13 years,” he said.

State tourism industry awards will be presented by the Alabama Tourism Department at the conference.  The awards banquet will be live streamed at at 7 p.m. on Aug. 22.

Orange Beach Mayor Tony Kennon and Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft will welcome attendees to the city during the general session on Sunday. The staff of the Alabama Tourism Department will present an annual update on their marketing campaigns. Alabama Bicentennial Commission Executive Director Jay Lamar will discuss plans to celebrate the state’s upcoming bicentennial.  Nisa Miranda from the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development will discuss redevelopment and sustainability plans for Gulf State Park. 

Alabama State Parks Director Greg Lein will give an update on state parks. Back Forty Beer Company owner Jason Wilson will speak on the Alabama craft beer industry. Southern Living test kitchen chef Robby Melvin will present a food demonstration. Integrity Meeting Solutions founder Dallas Teague Snider will speak on the importance of education in the hospitality industry.  Alabama Revenue Commissioner Julie Magee and Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Tourism vice president of marketing Joanie Flynn will discuss Airbnb. 

Intermark Group senior account executive Madison Elkin, president/CEO April Boone of Global Marketing Solutions, Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Tourism digital marketing manager Shelley Piraino and digital media specialist Jessica Carlton with the City of Huntsville will share the latest trends with social media marketing.

The staff of the Alabama Tourism Department will present an annual update Sunday afternoon.

For more information and registration, go to:


Alabama Tourism launches blog

The Alabama Tourism Department has launched its official blog, the Sweet Home Alabama Blog at

The blog features a variety of Alabama travel news – top music acts coming to the Billy Reid Shindig in Florence, The Market at Pepper Place in Birmingham bringing a new slate of makers, which restaurants Wine Spectator recognizes as having the state’s best wine selections and Scottsboro’s Unclaimed Baggage Center having concierge shopping.

Tourism publications editor Rick Harmon, the blog’s editor, says the new blog accomplishes two major purposes.

“The first is it gives us a new way to quickly deliver travel news,” he said.  “We already extensively use Twitter and Facebook, but we didn’t really have a format that allowed us to get full stories about a variety of travel issues to the public quickly.”

“The second thing is that while we send press releases and news letters to the media and partners in the tourism industry, this allows us to deliver stories straight to the people we are trying to reach.”

The blog will cover a wide range of topics from new attractions or changes in existing Alabama attractions to upcoming festivals and events. 

If you know of items that you believe would be good material for the blog, please email 


Gulf State Park lodge second phase, Hilton agreement approved

By Mike Cason,, Aug. 8

The committee overseeing the Gulf State Park project on Friday approved the second construction phase of the new lodge and conference center on the Alabama coast, as well as a franchise agreement with Hilton Hotels.

The facility will be called “The Lodge at Gulf State Park, a Hilton Hotel.”

It is expected to open in 2018.

Rabren General Contractors Inc., of Auburn was the low bidder on the second phase of the lodge, with a bid of $27 million.

Three other companies submitted bids.

  • Jesco Inc., submitted a bid of $27.3 million.
  • White-Spunner Construction Inc. submitted a bid of $28.7 million.
  • Roy Anderson Corp Contractors submitted a bid of $30 million.

The work is expected to take a year.

Bids will be received for the final phase of construction next year.

The lodge and conference center will replace the lodge that Hurricane Ivan struck in 2004.

Phase 1 of the project, the foundation, was completed at a cost of $3.7 million by M.W. Rogers Construction Company. The work was on time and under budget, according to the governor’s office.

The franchise agreement with Hilton Hotels is a 20-year deal.

Hilton will receive about 7 percent of the gross room revenue annually.

In return, Hilton will provide the largest reservation software engine in the world to promote occupancy of guest rooms and meeting spaces, according to the governor’s office.

Hilton will provide marketing support and quality control standards, according to the governor’s office.

Hilton will not operate the hotel. An operator will be picked through a request for proposals process, the governor’s office said.

Besides the lodge and conference center, the Gulf State Park Project includes an education center, an interpretative center, miles of new trails and restoration of dunes.

The trails are being done in three packages. The first, with four miles of trails, has been completed.

The committee on Friday approved the second package, which consists of five miles of trails.

The third package of trails is being designed in coordination with the Alabama Department of Transportation.

It will include two bicycle and pedestrian trails across East Beach Boulevard.

State Rep. Steve McMillan, R-Gulf Shores, a member of the project committee, said the park improvements would be something the entire state could be proud of.

Gov. Robert Bentley, a longtime proponent of the park project, has said it would help keep convention business in the state that now goes to beach resorts in other states and would generate revenue that can help support other state parks.

Conservation Commissioner Gunter Guy said the overall park enhancements, not just the lodge and conference center, would increase visitors to the park and make it a unique destination.


To read this article online, go to:


State Tourism part of receptive sales mission

A group of Travel South state representatives called on key receptive companies last week in Orlando. Attending for Alabama Tourism was Rosemary Judkins. “The event was a success,” said Rosemary Judkins, Sales Manager.  She was there to give updates on what’s hot and happening in “Sweet Home” Alabama. 

At each of the stops, Judkins was able to address the companies that wholesale hotel rooms and attractions to tour companies around the world on the importance of Alabama’s destinations.  The group met more than 100 representatives from six top receptive companies; ATI, JTB, Tourico, American Ring, Miki Travel, and Meeting Point North America.


Alabama craft beer advocates vow to work with ABC on controversial proposal

By Lucy Berry,, Aug. 4

Another group is speaking up about a new Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board proposal it believes would place an unnecessary burden on businesses.

The Alabama Brewers Guild said it is against a provision that would require beer and spirit manufacturers that sell products for off-premise consumption to collect personal information, including the customer’s name, address, phone number and date of birth, and report it to the state. The Birmingham organization is the latest to oppose the mandate after Free the Hops on Tuesday called it an “unprecedented, unnecessary, and overreaching invasion of privacy.”

The state passed a bill in March allowing breweries that make less than 60,000 barrels of beer per year to sell up to 288 ounces per customer per day for off-premise use. ABG said the record-keeping provision brought forth by the ABC Board is to “enforce a transaction limit opposed by law.”

“Individuals may not purchase more than 288 ounces a day from a brewery, and this provision would help the ABC Audit Division to ensure compliance,” the group said in a statement Thursday. “The ABC is trying to do their job, and we understand the reasoning. However, we believe there are less invasive ways to ensure compliance.

The ABC Board is made up of three members appointed by the governor: Bubba Lee of Gulf Shores, Samuetta Drew of Birmingham and Michael Ingram of Montgomery. Attempts to reach the board members were unsuccessful.

Dean Argo, government relations and communications manager for the ABC Board, would not respond to questions about why the proposal is up for consideration or how the consumer information would be used by the state.

“When the Legislature makes changes to law pertaining to spirits, the ABC Board must update, change or write new rules and regulations to ensure that the law is enforced adequately and correctly,” he told “Those updates, changes, or new rules are drafted by staff and then submitted to the Board for consideration. The Alabama Administrative Procedures Act requires that the proposed rules must be advertised and public comment taken. Once the Board has reviewed and considered the public input, it can then decide whether the proposed rule should be adopted or changed. “

The public can submit feedback to the state through Sept. 7 by emailing or sending a written letter to the Alabama ABC Board, 2715 Gunter Park Drive West, Montgomery, AL, 36109.

Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison, worked with Rep. Anthony Daniels, D-Huntsville, to push the Growler Bill through the Legislature earlier this year. Holtzclaw on Wednesday tweeted about the proposed ABC rule, calling it a “burden on breweries and consumer.”

Holtzclaw said he spoke with the ABC Board on Thursday about the mandate.

“We are looking forward to working with them to clarify some of the code that was kind of outside of what we originally did to enable the off-premise sales, so that’s where they’re going with trying to bring some of this rule making into fruition,” he said. “Now that we’ve had this discussion, they are looking forward to working with us in February when we go back into session.”

Holtzclaw said the ABC Board’s concerns about “when does a manufacturer not become a manufacturer and become a retailer” need to be addressed.

“I’m more than happy to do that, but the way they were going about doing it, I was not in favor of,” he said.

The ABC Board will consider all public input on the proposal at its next meeting in late September. At that time, the body could decide to delay voting, edit certain portions of the mandate or scrap the proposal entirely.

Free the Hops Vice President Carie Partain said the complete removal of the requirement is the “only reasonable outcome.”

“Our job, as a consumer advocacy group, is to facilitate the public awareness of the issue and encourage the public to avail themselves of the ABC’s process for commentary on this proposed requirement,” she said. “We are here to look out for the consumers that support our local breweries and brewpubs. We will continue to rally the public and monitor the dialogue between the industry and the ABC board.”

To read this article online, go to:


New York Times features Big Bob Gibson’s White Barbecue Sauce
By Sam Sifton, New York Times Cooking, Aug. 3

White barbecue sauce is indigenous to northern Alabama, where it adorns the chicken at Big Bob Gibson’s barbecue emporiums in Decatur.  It melts into beautiful lacquer over the grill or in the oven, bringing a tangy slickness to all that it touches.  It’s also quite good on bluefish.

Featured in: How To Make A Perfect Summer Feast

To read this article online, go to:


Eureka! The Science of Archimedes now open at the Space & Rocket Center

By Bob Gathany,, Aug. 7

The new Science of Archimedes exhibit is now open at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The world premier was Friday Aug. 5th  and the fun continues thru Feb. 2017.  This display showcases the inventions and scientific discoveries of Archimedes, the “Father of Modern Science.”

Archimedes was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor and astronomer c.287BC – c.212BC.  He is considered one of the greatest mathematicians of all time and is credited with designing many innovative machines and weapons.

Galileo referred to him as “superhuman.”  He has been called the Einstein of his time (or some have called Einstein the Archimedes of his time).  Both a crater and a mountain range on the moon have been named in his honor.

A favorite Archimedes anecdote tells the story of how he discovered a method for determining the volume of an irregular shape while bathing. He jumped out of the water running naked through the streets shouting “Eureka!” meaning “I have found it! “

Guests visiting the exhibit are taken on a journey through history and science with a look at the machines of the ancient world. While the concepts are centuries old, many of these ancient technologies have been adapted for use today.

With computer-modeled animations, interactive machines and an activity station for ages 3 to 14, this exhibit is designed for all ages.

To celebrate the Archimedes exhibit, The Space & Rocket Center will host a Toga Party Saturday, Aug. 13 from 6:30 p.m. until 10 p.m. with prizes for the best togas and tunics. The Olympics will be shown on TV monitors during the event. For more information click here

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Mark your calendars for the Alabama Tourism Workshop Oct. 5

The Alabama Tourism Department will host the semi-annual Tourism Workshop in Montgomery on Wednesday, Oct. 5.  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

Aug. 12 – 21                           Alabama Restaurant Week                                         Statewide

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

Sept. 7 – 9                               STS Fall Forum                                                          Birmingham

Oct. 5                                      Alabama Tourism 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.

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