Tourism Tuesdays March 21, 2017

  • Travel South Showcase
  • Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument dedication set
  • Statewide walking tours begin in April
  • State Parks perfect place to spend spring break
  • Gulf State Park Lodge on track for 2018 opening
  • Alabama hotels dominate Marriott and Renaissance national rankings
  • Alabama restaurant earns record ninth straight James Beard Award nomination
  • David Clark named President/CEO of Visit Mobile
  • U.S. Space & Rocket Center celebrates 47 years in Huntsville
  • Major airline adds new nonstop flight from Birmingham
  • 50th Anniversary of Boehm Gallery at Bellingrath Gardens and Home
  • High-tech bike share program comes to Huntsville
  • Southeast Alabama Highland Games draw a crowd
  • Alabama Tourism Workshop- April 12
  • “Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


Travel South Showcase
The Alabama Tourism Department and 21 tourism/hospitality partners from across the state worked at 14 appointment booths last week at the Travel South Showcase in Branson, Missouri.  The Alabama group met with more than 500 group tour operator representatives and travel journalists.

Tourism representatives from Alabama included: Grey Brennan, Rosemary Judkins and Brian Jones with the Alabama Tourism Department; Ann Clemons with Triple E Group Services; Cooper Holmes with the Alabama Blackbelt Federation; Debbie Wilson with Swampette Tours; Tom White with the U.S. Space & Rocket Center; Pam Williams with the Huntsville CVB; Suzie Shoemaker with Florence/Lauderdale Tourism; Tara Walton with the Greater Birmingham CVB; Bill Buchanan with the Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports Commission, Candace Skelton with the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development; Tina Jones with Experience, LLC; Bob Hendrix with the Dothan CVB; Patty Kieffer with Visit Mobile; Jesse Newsom with the Cullman Area Chamber of Commerce; Marley Schmid with the Decatur/Morgan County CVB; Rhonda Davis with the USS Alabama; Kala Riggs with the Cook Museum of Natural Science; Keith Worthington with the Rosa Parks Museum and Keely Law with the Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa.

“Alabama is very popular with group tour operators because of the diversity of our attractions, great hotels and the excellent customer service provided by the state’s hospitality industry,” said Alabama Tourism Department group travel manager Rosemary Judkins.

Travel South Showcase is the premier industry marketplace event in the South where tourism professionals gather for three days of intensive meetings with a goal of delivering more visitors who will spend more time and more money in the South. This regional appointment-style marketplace offers the most-targeted opportunity for tour operators and wholesalers to meet face to face with Southern suppliers.

Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument dedication set

from the article by Greg Garrison on

The National Park Service and local partners will host a celebration of the new Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument next month.

“It is a great honor to see the start of the Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument,” said Birmingham Mayor William Bell. “We look forward to the park dedication and community celebration in April and are pleased to be providing information to visitors at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. Every milestone in this process continues to push the city forward and continues to build awareness of the civil rights movement overall in Birmingham.”

The dedication will be Saturday, April 15, from 1 to 4 p.m., outside the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The event is free and open to the public.

The National Park Service is coordinating the event along with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the City of Birmingham and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

“We look forward to dedicating the new Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument with our partners who were central to the park’s establishment,” said Stan Austin, regional director for the National Park Service. “The park preserves and interprets an important chapter in America’s modern civil rights movement.”

The Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument was established as a unit of the National Park System by presidential proclamation on Jan. 12. This new unit of the National Park System encompasses about four city blocks in downtown Birmingham. It includes the A.G. Gaston Motel, which served as headquarters for the Birmingham campaign in April and May of 1963, led by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth and other civil rights activists.

Other landmarks include:
Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, the target of a bombing in 1963 that killed four young girls.

Kelly Ingram Park, where protesters were confronted with police dogs and water cannons.

The Fourth Avenue Historic District, the retail and entertainment center for black-owned businesses during segregation.

Bethel Baptist Church, six miles northeast of downtown, where Shuttlesworth served as pastor. It was the headquarters of the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, led by Shuttlesworth, and was bombed three times, in 1956, 1958 and 1962.

The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute opened between A.G. Gaston Motel and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1992 and hosts more than 140,000 visitors annually.

The National Park Service is partnering with the City of Birmingham to restore the A.G. Gaston Motel to its appearance in 1963.

For the complete article please see

Statewide walking tours begin in April
Some 28 towns across Alabama will be on display during Saturday mornings in April as part of the Alabama Tourism Department’s April Walking Tours.

A variety of community leaders will lead the free tours through the historic districts or courthouse square areas of their hometowns.  The hour-long tours will start at 10 a.m. on April 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29.

Towns and starting places for the April Walking Tours are: Athens, Athens Visitor Center; Attalla, Gazebo at 4th St. and 5th Ave.; Bayou La Batre, Mariner Park; Birmingham, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; Courtland, Courtland Heritage Museum; Cullman, Cullman County Museum; Daleville, Chamber of Commerce; Decatur, Old State Bank Building; Elba, Chamber of Commerce; Enterprise, The Rawls Hotel; Eutaw, Prairie Avenue; Fairhope, Fairhope Welcome Center; Florence, various locations; Foley, Welcome Center.

Huntsville, Confectionary Shop at Constitution Village (April 1 & 8 only); Livingston, McConnell Field on University of West Alabama campus; Madison, Madison Roundhouse (April 15 & 22 only); Mobile, Welcome Center at The History Museum of Mobile; Montgomery; Montgomery Area Visitor Center; Mooresville, Post Office; Moulton, Lawrence County Archives; Pell City, City Hall; Prattville, Prattaugan Museum; Selma, Selma-Dallas County Library; Sheffield, Sheffield Municipal Building; Shelby, Iron Works Park; Troy, Pike County Chamber of Commerce; 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 32,000 people have participated in the walking tours since the beginning of the program 14 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

State Parks perfect place to spend spring break
From the article in the Selma Times-Journal:

By Greg Lein
Lein is the director of Alabama’s state parks division.

Now is the time that we are beckoned outdoors by warmer temperatures, springtime blossoms and a break from school. This time of year, there’s nowhere better to be than in an Alabama State Park.

The Alabama State Parks System offers springtime activities for the entire family, from riding mountain bikes to riding zip lines to riding the waves in the Gulf of Mexico. Almost everyone in our state lives within an hour’s drive of a state park, so there’s no need to spend precious time on the road!

Whether it’s camping or spending restful nights in a resort lodge, the Alabama State Parks System has exactly what spring breakers need. Alabama’s State Parks offer a hikers’ paradise with more than 200 miles of trails. Rent a canoe and paddle on one of the many lakes at the parks. Relax at one of the system’s five pools or exercise your brain by taking advantage of a guided tour and interpretive program at the park.

There are six resort parks in the system: Lake Guntersville, Cheaha, Gulf, DeSoto, Lakepoint and Joe Wheeler. These parks have pools, full-service restaurants and many unique attractions.

Overnight guests can lounge at the Gulf State Park campground pool and frolic at the adjoining splash pad with a tennis court just a few steps away.

At Cheaha Resort State Park, breathtaking views await throughout the 2,799-acre mountaintop retreat. Cabins, chalets and campgrounds offer overnight accommodations to fit your preference.

Adventure awaits at Lake Guntersville State Park with the aptly named Screaming Eagle Aerial Adventures zip line course. View the park like only the eagles have before the construction of this amazing attraction.

At DeSoto State Park, enjoy canoeing or kayaking, go fishing or hiking, biking or rappelling. Exploring nature is easy with more than 25 miles of trails as well as an ADA-accessible boardwalk.

Lakepoint on bass-fishing paradise Lake Eufaula offers more than just the greatest angling you could imagine. There’s also hiking, swimming, wildlife and bird watching, camping, picnic areas and playgrounds. Lakepoint Resort Lodge and Convention Center offers 101 hotel rooms, 29 cabins and 10 lakefront cottages.

Joe Wheeler State Park is divided by the Tennessee River, which forms the 69,700-acre Wheeler Lake. Bass, bream and catfish are plentiful in the sparkling waters. Bring your sailboat to float your cares away, your bike to pedal your way through the wooded paradise or your clubs to use on the magnificent golf course.

If you are in the mood for “roughing it,” the Alabama State Parks System offers plenty of campgrounds where you can get away from it all — or get away with your entire family or your best friends. Many of our parks also offer seminars and craft projects.

Those of us who love Alabama’s State Parks are so thankful for the voters’ overwhelming support of Amendment 2 in last November’s election. The approval of the amendment to stop the raiding of the parks’ budget was significant in terms of protecting the funds moving forward, but it does not immediately solve the budget crunch caused by repeated transfers of parks’ funds over the past several years.

The best way to support our parks right now is to go out and enjoy them. Our parks are almost wholly supported by those who use them. Between 80 and 90 percent of the system’s funding — and 100 percent of our operating costs — come from user fees, not tax dollars.

Tell your friends about your wonderful experiences and encourage them to get out and visit, too! Our partners pay the way.

For the complete article please see

Gulf State Park on track for 2018 opening                                                                                                       
from the article by David Rainer in the Courier Journal:

Now that Spring Break is in full swing on the Alabama Gulf Coast, loads of beachgoers are traveling between Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. And it’s almost certain that most are wondering about all that construction adjacent to the Gulf State Park Pier.

The answer is the resurrection of the Gulf State Park Lodge. The original lodge and convention center was wrecked by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and a new and extensively improved version has a projected completion date of May 2018 for the park’s beachfront construction.

Cooper Shattuck has been involved in multiple capacities with the Gulf State Park Project (GSPP) since its inception. The project will not use any taxpayer money to restore and enhance the state’s premier state park.

Shattuck said $141 million will be used to rebuild the lodge that was washed away by Ivan’s storm surge, construct a new Learning Campus inside the park, build an interpretive center, enhance the experience for the park’s 600,000 annual visitors with new trails and features and restore the park’s sugar-sand dunes with new techniques and the planting of native vegetation.

The first $85 million of the funding came from an early BP settlement from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“As part of the BP settlement that was reached last year, BP wanted and agreed to pay an additional $50 million,” Shattuck said. “Together with other BP grant monies, this gives the $141 million to complete the entire project, which will be done with no state dollars. That’s significant. There will be no bonds, no debt, 100 percent of the funds will come from BP.”

A judge overseeing litigation involving the project asked that additional alternatives be considered before deciding on using any of the money on the lodge and conference center. Shattuck said those additional alternatives have been identified and analyzed, and the design team has taken advantage of that pause to make further improvements to the plans.

“As part of that process, we’ve had the time and ability to add more enhancements to the project that will allow for greater public access than what was originally anticipated,” he said. “Part of that was going through the master-planning process, and part of it was recognizing elements that would be helpful to the public, and we found a way to include them in the money we received.

“So, we’ve taken a potential obstacle and used it as a stepping stone to something better. As a great example, we’re adding something I think has been needed for a long time – two pedestrian overpasses over the beach road. When those are completed, you’ll be able to walk or bike from the north side to the beach side. That’s huge, and now is the time to do it. It will link the trail network, which will be enhanced, to the beach. So people staying at the campground or using the trail network can get to the beach without having to dodge traffic crossing the beach road.”

Shattuck said one overpass would be constructed in the lodge area and the other would be at the pavilion and interpretive center east of the lodge.

“Those weren’t originally contemplated,” he said. “That’s a development that’s significant. Another thing, as a part of the master planning process, we’ve relocated the research and education facility, which we renamed the Learning Campus.”

Instead of shoehorning the Learning Campus on the small parcel of land next to the campground, pool and existing learning center, the Learning Campus will be moved to a tract close to the park’s administration buildings.

“The design team started looking for other places in the park where we could locate the Learning Campus without an impact on cultural resources or habitat,” Shattuck said. “Even though the park is 6,150 acres, when you start looking to put in a program that size, it’s hard to find.

“But we found one near the existing park headquarters. That area up there is already disturbed. There are cabins and parking lots up there. Instead of putting one big building, we’re going to spread it out so it sits lightly on the land.”

The Learning Campus will include several different buildings – a dorm space for students to stay overnight, a building with classrooms and lecture spaces, a building with a restaurant that won’t be limited to students and renovated parking lots that will use permeable material to cut down on water runoff.

“In thinking outside the box, we created a campus that will be more of a benefit to the people and have less of an impact on the environment of the park,” Shattuck said.

Another aspect of the master planning process, which included significant public input, is a transportation system inside the park that will be in addition to the enhancements of the trail system.

“We wanted people to be able to walk and bike through the park more efficiently,” Shattuck said. “But people can’t always do that whether it’s physical limitations or just time. We want them to enjoy the park.

“So one of the elements we’re adding is a tram service. The plan is for it to be operated and maintained by the lodge operator, but it would serve the whole park. It would be an integrated service that would serve the whole park, so we don’t have people driving all over the whole park.”

Another enhancement that will be added is park-wide Wi-Fi service.

“That was a big deal,” Shattuck said. “That was mentioned by a large number of park users. Some people might say why do we want W-Fi in the park? We want people to enjoy the park. But it was a big deal. That’s the way people enjoy the outdoors these days. They don’t carry guidebooks anymore. If they see a plant or bird or lizard that they don’t know, they look it up on their smartphones. And, of course, they want to take pictures.”

Shattuck said the reservations system will also be improved for the 350 hotel rooms with meeting space, which can handle 1,000 people. A ballroom in the beachfront complex will accommodate 1,500 people.

“Construction of the Lodge is coming in on time and on budget,” Shattuck said “The relocation of the Learning Campus may mean it won’t be finished until the fall of 2018, but that’s when we anticipate the biggest demand – when the kids get back to school.”

Before Hurricane Ivan, revenues generated at Gulf State Park provided funds to help operate other facilities in the State Parks System.

“After the project is finished, the park is expected to generate a net from the first year in excess of $5.5 million,” Shattuck said. “That’s good. Then it goes up every year as you capture initial costs. It goes from $5.5 million to $6 million until it peaks and plateaus between $6.5 million and $7 million.

|“Being able to do this without incurring any debt, that just doesn’t happen. It’s just unheard of. Frankly, BP had a willingness to do it with their vision of seeing how it helps restore those lost recreational uses and the economy on the Gulf Coast. They benefit from it, but we do, too. I think it showed a lot of vision.”

Shattuck said the GSPP team has discovered how cherished the park facilities were to the folks on the Alabama coast.

“It really was part of the culture,” he said. “There were significant events in their lives that occurred at the park from weddings and wedding receptions. That’s where the Rotary Club met. That’s been gone for more than 10 years. This will restore that for the local community yet provide access for visitors to stay on the beach in a place that they will be proud of.

“So many times people have these great visions, and you end up having budget and time restraints that keep you from reaching that vision. This is going to be one of those rare opportunities where what is ultimately going to be put in place is even better than what was planned originally, and that’s rare. Public or private, that’s rare.”

For the complete article please see

Alabama Hotels dominate Marriott and Renaissance national rankings
From the article by Stephanie Rebman in the Birmingham Business Journal:

Alabama’s Marriott and Renaissance hotels dominated a new ranking of guest satisfaction for the two brands.

According to a survey put together by an outside firm, Alabama’s Retirement Systems of Alabama-owned hotels took home first, second and third for guest satisfaction out of 363 full-service Marriott hotels in both the United States and South America for stays so far this year.

The survey also placed Alabama hotels in first and third place on the list of 90 Renaissance properties in South America and the U.S., including the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa.

The top Marriott hotels are:
1. Auburn Marriott Opelika Hotel & Conference Center at Grand National (Opelika)
2. Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa (Florence)
3. Grand Hotel Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa (Point Clear)
4. Milwaukee Marriott West
5. Louisville Marriott East

Top Renaissance Hotels:
1. Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa (Birmingham)
2. Renaissance Denver Downtown City Center Hotel
3. The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa (Mobile)
4. Renaissance Edmonton Airport Hotel
5. Renaissance Santiago Hotel

“These guest satisfaction ratings are a real tribute to the Retirement Systems of Alabama for building first-class hotels and to our team of hard working associates who take care of our guests every day,” Tony Davis, president of PCH Hotels & Resorts, the resorts/hotels along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, said in a release.

“Our associates demonstrate exceptional Southern Hospitality, as these numbers show. We strive to make each guest experience exceptional and encourage them to return with others who have not visited Alabama.”

Davis also said Marriott Prattville, Renaissance Riverview and Renaissance Montgomery scored high, but outside the top five.

For the complete article please see

Alabama restaurant earns record ninth straight James Beard Award nomination
From the article by Bob Carlton on

Make it nine in a row for Highlands Bar and Grill.

The Birmingham restaurant, widely regarded as one of the finest in the South, earned its ninth straight James Beard Foundation Award nomination for the country’s most outstanding restaurant.

It breaks a record that Highlands shared with the San Francisco restaurant Boulevard, which was previously nominated for eight straight years before winning the Beard Foundation’s top award in 2012.

Also, Highlands pastry chef Dolester Miles, who has been with the restaurant since chef and owner Frank Stitt opened it in 1982, is one of five finalists for the country’s outstanding pastry chef. This is her second straight year as a finalist.

The finalists were announced this morning, and the outstanding restaurant and other winners will be announced on May 1 at the 27th annual James Beard Foundation Awards at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Alabama chefs Rob McDaniel of SpringHouse in Alexander City, David Bancroft of Acre in Auburn, Bill Briand of Fisher’s Upstairs at Orange Beach Marina in Orange Beach and Timothy Hontzas of Johnny’s Restaurant in Homewood had been among the 20 semifinalists for best chef in the South but were not included in the list of finalists announced today in that category.

Joining Highlands Bar and Grill in the outstanding restaurant category are Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colo.; Momofuku Noodle Bar, New York City; Quince, San Francisco; The Spotted Pig, New York City; and Topolobampo, Chicago.

Often called “the Oscars of food,” the James Beard Foundation Awards recognize the country’s finest restaurants, chefs and other food and wine professionals and are voted on by previous James Beard winners, the restaurant and chef awards committee, and regional restaurant critics and food and wine editors.

The outstanding restaurant award recognizes “a restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard-bearer for consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere and service” and that has been in operation for at least 10 or more consecutive years, according to the Beard Foundation.

Highlands has been a finalist for that award every year since 2009.

Also, Birmingham-based Cooking Light magazine is a finalist in three categories of the James Beard Foundation Journalism Awards, which were also announced today.

Those finalists are: Hunter Lewis, Carolyn Williams, Sidney Fry and Peggy Knickerbocker, for their feature “Brain Food,” which is nominated in the Food and Health category.

Hunter Lewis, Cheryl Slocum and Robin Bashinsky for “How to Cook, Smoke, Crumble, Grind, Pickle, Candy, Milk, Slow Cook, Toast, Pulverize, and Fry a Nut,” nominated in the Home Cooking category.

Francis Lam for “Recipes with Roots: The True Meaning of Turkey,” a finalist in the Humor category.

The journalism and other media award winners will be announced April 25 in New York City.

Previous James Beard Award chef and restaurant winners from Alabama include:

Highlands Bar and Grill’s Frank Stitt, for best chef in the Southeast in 2001.

The Bright Star in Bessemer, the America’s Classic award in 2010.

Chris Hastings of Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club, for best chef in the South in 2012.

Also, in 2011, Highlands’ Stitt was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.

For the complete article please see

David Clark named President/CEO of Visit Mobile
After a national, almost six-month long search, the Board of Directors of Visit Mobile has announced the hiring of hospitality professional, David Clark, to fill the role of President/CEO beginning April 1.  Clark joins The Visit Mobile team with 29 years of hospitality, lodging, tourism and visionary leadership with 27 of those years working and living in Coastal Alabama.

“I am excited to join the Visit Mobile team and stakeholders to continue to raise the bar with promoting tourism, lodging and positioning Mobile as one of the South’s leading destinations.  I believe that Visit Mobile is about sales, service and experience and engaging all stakeholders to promote sustainability of our great city, ” says Clark. “We will continue to aim higher to create an image of leisure so tourists will not only come to visit, but will want to return to live, work and play in Mobile.  I look forward to teaming with all stakeholders and am thankful for the opportunity.”


Prior to joining the Visit Mobile Team,Clark worked for Spectrum Resorts for four years serving as General Manager of The Beach Club in Gulf Shores, AL, an upscale resort community.  The resort welcomed leisure guests and families throughout North America and was recognized by Trip Advisor as a Top Family Friendly beach resort the last three years and was awarded Business of The Year for 2016 by the Coastal Alabama Business Chamber.

Prior to working with Spectrum Resorts, Clakrk worked with Marriott International for 25 years; 23 of those years at The Grand Hotel Marriott, Resort Golf Club & Spa in Point Clear, Alabama.  Clark and his team positioned The Grand as one of the largest destination resorts in the Southeast by targeting group conventions, leisure and family business.  Clark served in a variety of roles including Head Golf Professional, Director of Golf, Resident Manager and the last eight years as General Manager.

Clark directed strategic business objectives to the highest brand standards in lodging, associate and guest satisfaction, quality assurance, sales, profits and capital planning including $75 million in facility improvements.  Clark’s team led Marriott International’s Resort Division to the No.1 1 Overall Guest Satisfaction ranking in North America for six consecutive years while serving 400,000 guests annually.  Clark teamed with 700 associates during his leadership role at The Grand.

U.S. Space & Rocket Center celebrates 47 years in Huntsville
from the article by Bob Gathany on

The U.S. Space & Rocket Center is celebrating 47 years of educating America and the world about NASA and the U.S. Space program. The Center opened March 17, 1970, as the Alabama Space & Rocket Center and has had 18 million visitors since that time. The No. 1 tourist attraction in the state, the Center has over 650,000 visitors each year.

Dr. Wernher von Braun, then director of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, approached the Alabama legislature about creating a museum jointly with the Army Missile Command and NASA. In 1968, the state’s citizens voted to finance construction of the Center.

The museum houses the National Historic Landmark Saturn V Moon Rocket, the Apollo 16 Command Module and the Pathfinder space shuttle display. There are more than 10,000 artifacts in its collection with over 1000 items displayed including 27 missiles and rockets. The center is also a Smithsonian Affiliate Museum and is the Official Visitor Center for Marshall Space Flight Center.

In 1982, the Center launched its Space Camp program, which has more than 750,000 alumni from around the world, including five astronauts. Aviation Challenge Camp with its leadership and fighter-pilot training opened in 1990, and Space Camp Robotics began in 2013.

For the complete article including a timeline of significant events for the U.S. Space & Rocket Center please see

Major airline adds new nonstop flight from Birmingham
from the article by Michael Seale in the Birmingham Business Journal:

American Airlines will add another nonstop destination from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport later this year.

American will start nonstop service from BHM to and from Chicago O’Hare International Airport on July 5.

It will be the second major airline to serve the route and the third to offer a nonstop flight to Chicago. United Airlines also flies to O’Hare, while Southwest Airlines flies to Chicago Midway.

“We are excited to have American Airlines non-stop service to Chicago O’Hare International Airport. This service provides Birmingham passengers another great option when flying to or connecting in Chicago,” said Al Denson, Birmingham Airport Authority President and CEO. The new nonstop service will operate twice daily with a two class CRJ-700.

The new route is a big win for BHM, which has been working to recruit new nonstop destinations and airlines amid a challenging environment for midsize airports.

American currently offers nonstop service to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), Philadelphia (PHL), Washington National (DCA), Charlotte (CLT), and Miami International (MIA) from Birmingham.

For the complete article please see

50th Anniversary of Boehm Gallery at Bellingrath Gardens and Home
Bellingrath Gardens and Home is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Delchamps Gallery of Boehm Porcelain, which was formally dedicated on March 9, 1967, at a black tie reception. The collection was donated to the Gardens and Home by members of the Delchamps family of Mobile – a name synonymous with a chain of local supermarkets since the 1920s.

The Boehm gallery is housed in Walter and Bessie Bellingrath’s former guest house, a building originally designed in 1939 as an open six-car garage with rooms above. The gallery was created to display the initial donation of 86 works created by artist Edward Marshall Boehm (pronounced “beam”).

A video on the history of the Delchamps Gallery has been created to commemorate the 50th anniversary. The video will be featured in the gallery to give visitors insight into the Boehm collection, which is now at 137 pieces.

For more information on the Delchamps Gallery of Boehm Porcelain please see

High-tech bike share program comes to Huntsville
From the report by Christine Mitchell on WHNT-19:

“We have a really bikable city, we have a beautiful place to get around, we have a very level city, we have very minimal traffic,” said avid bike rider Bruce Weddendorf, Founder of Huntsville Urban Bike Share.

Bike share programs are growing in popularity around the country and closer to home– cities like Birmingham, Chattanooga, Raleigh, and Nashville are all on board the bike-share train.

When Chad Emerson, President of Downtown Huntsville Inc., started looking for a bike share program to bring to Huntsville, he knew it would have to uphold specific qualifications.

“We’d really like a program, but what’s the most technologically advanced way of doing that? And so we interviewed several companies, came up with Zagster, which is really what Uber is to taxis, Zagster is to bike share,” Emerson said.

“We have a high-tech city, it’s good to have a high-tech bike share to go with it,” Weddendorf said.

High tech as in it all operates through the convenience of simple app on your phone. You can walk up to a bike, request a certain bike number, and you are given a code or a Bluetooth signal which you use to unlock the bike, and off you ride.

That app will be available for download on March 1, and the bikes ready for cruising on March 8. The Downtown BlueBikes presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama will have 40 bikes at eight stations across downtown Huntsville. And unlike many programs, these bikes are versatile and discreet. They have the appearance of a casual cruiser but are still durable.

And the Zagster bikes have the flexibility of being locked up anywhere you want to put them, not just their designated stations. You can lock them onto a tree or bike rack, wherever you want.

This is also one of first bike share systems to be installed using zero taxpayer dollars. The program is entirely privately funded.

For the complete report please see

Southeast Alabama Highland Games draw a crowd
from the article by Jimmy Sailors in the Dothan Eagle:

Alex Armor couldn’t find anyone in a wheelchair competing in Scottish Highland games when he started.
Rules for adaptive athletes existed, but he had to figure out the techniques on his own.

“The rules tell you what you can do,” he said. “They don’t tell you how to.”

The founder of the Gimp Style Foundation was among more than three dozen people participating in Saturday’s second annual Southeast Alabama Highland Games on the grounds of the Houston County Farm Center in Dothan.

The festival celebrates Scottish athletics and culture. More than 20 clans had tents on the grounds to share information about lineage, clan history, and their tartans.

Games include the caber toss, sheaf toss, hammer throw and other feats of strength and skill in men’s and women’s divisions.

Chris Bailey, co-founder of the Twisted Kilt Society that hosts the games, said the event provides a way to learn about Scottish history and heritage.

“People just seem to like to see something different,” Bailey said. “I think the Dothan community is ready for that kind of stuff and needs that kind of exposure.”

The games, based on gatherings that date back at least a thousand years, put a different version of athletic prowess on display.

Bailey said last year some of the competitors bought a kilt and walked onto the field. “Literally that was the preparation they had,” he said.

Some of the athletes this year are nationally-ranked throwers.

“They have a community amongst themselves that is very supportive,” Bailey said.

Newcomers can learn from seasoned competitors the right way to execute throws.

“These guys are teaching them the technique,” Bailey said. “They’re taking the time to walk them through how to do it and not get hurt.”

Experts find hurling a caber – a large tapered pole – so it turns end over end isn’t easy. Armor has to do the feat of strength from an all-terrain chair fitted with tracks.

Armor was an able-bodied Highland competitor before he medically retired from the Army. His condition progressively got worse and Armor ended up in a wheelchair.

“I was going into a dark place, and luckily a nonprofit called The Independence Fund will furnish these track chairs for mobility-impaired veterans,” Armor said. “I got one through them and I was able to get back out hunting and fishing.”

He also plays the bagpipes. He was opening one of the games for Tennessee Highland Heavy Athletics when he thought about how much he missed competition.

Once he began competing in a track chair he realized all the hurdles he was having to overcome doing a nontraditional adaptive sport.

“I was complaining about it, and one thing I learned in the Army is, don’t complain unless you have a solution,” Armor said.

He decided to be the solution and started the Gimp Style Foundation, an organization to educate and support adaptive athletes.

Armor said he holds the record for every Highland event in his class.

“I really found a place where I’m living again, not just surviving,” he said.

This year he will end up doing more than 40 gaming events.

“Basically I travel and compete Friday through Monday and I run my nonprofit Tuesday through Thursday,” Armor said.

His personal quest has grown into something a lot bigger, and he sees a lot of need among other adaptive athletes.

“My goal is to not change the world, just change the world of sports,” he said.

For the complete article please see

Alabama Tourism Workshop- April 12
The Alabama Tourism Department will host the semi-annual Tourism Workshop in Montgomery on Wed., April 12.  This workshop is for new tourism industry members, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in the area.

For registration and additional information, please contact Rosemary Judkins at 334-242-4493 or via email at

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
The first step after activating your personal partner account is to join an organization. “Organizations” are groups of partners with a common tourism affiliation. If no record exists for your specific tourism organization, you can create a new one. By joining or creating an organization, you are ensuring that you can claim and manage your specific location and event listings or create new ones.

Sign up to become a partner today at


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 newsletter please contact Brian Jones at:

Alabama Tourism Department