Tourism Tuesdays May 21, 2019

Alabama tourist spend $15 billion in record tourism year

Nominations for the 2019 Tourism Awards deadline extended

Adventures in Alabama

Huntsville and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio featured in Australian newspapers

Richard Thomas to star in national tour of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’

Music Hall of Fame has best April attendance ever

Meet the Grand Hotel’s full-time resident

Welcome Center greeting tourism partners

2019 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website



Alabama tourist spend $15 billion in record tourism year
From the article by Paul Gattis on

A record number of travelers to Alabama spent an estimated $15.5 billion in the state last year, Gov. Kay Ivey announced Monday.

It made for a sparkling annual tourism report, highlighted by spikes in visitors to Montgomery and the continued popularity of Alabama’s beaches in Baldwin County.

“We are excited our tourism industry grew by 8.5 percent in 2018, and we are proud to welcome millions of visitors to every region of our state, from the Tennessee Valley to the Wiregrass, to experience our hiking trails, beaches, restaurants and historical sites each year,” Ivey said in the announcement. “This great news not only impacts tourism, but it also has a major impact on our employment sector. Almost 200,000 direct and indirect jobs were maintained by the industry last year, setting yet another record.”

The economic impact of the state’s tourism industry was estimated to be $15.5 billion last year and 198,890 jobs were directly or indirectly attributed to the tourism industry, according to the report.

Alabama has seen annual increases in tourism since 2003, the report said, with the exception of a slight dip in 2010, which coincided with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We are proud that this past year showed the largest growth in visitors and expenditures in the state’s history,” state tourism director Lee Sentell said in the announcement. “We substantially exceeded our goals by attracting more than one million additional visitors and increasing expenditures by $1.2 billion.”

While the report from the state tourism department did not spell out specific popular tourist sites, it’s clear that visitors like Alabama’s beaches. Baldwin County had more than 6.5 million visitors last year – almost twice as many as second-most visited Jefferson County with almost 3.5 million visitors.

For the complete article please see

Nominations for the 2019 Tourism Awards deadline extended
The deadline for nominations has been extended to May 30, 2019. Please submit your nomination for a tourism professional you feel has gone above and beyond the call of duty. There are 13 categories to choose from: Tourism Hall of Fame, Attraction of the Year, Event of the Year, Governor’s Tourism Award, Tourism Advocate Media, Tourism Advocate Government, Tourism Professional of the Year, Tourism Executive of the Year, Tourism Organization of the Year, Tourism Partnership, Welcome Center Employee of the Year, ATD Employee of the Year, Rising Star, and Themed Campaigns.

Here is a list of past “Tourism Organization of the Year” winners through the years:
2008 – Decatur Convention & Visitors Bureau
2009 – Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association
2010 – Alabama Gulf Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau
2011 – Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association
2012 – Clay County Chamber of Commerce
2013 – Dekalb County Tourist Association
2014 – Florence/Lauderdale Tourism
2015 – Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Tourism
2016 – Huntsville Convention & Visitors Bureau
2017 – City of Foley
2018 – The Alabama Bass Trail

If you have any questions please contact Cynthia Flowers at 334-242-4413 or by email:

Adventures in Alabama
From the article on

Located in the heart of America’s Deep South, Alabama offers a beach vacation only hours away from New Orleans in its southern region and both music history and Rocket City in the north, just south of Nashville. The center of Alabama is all about history. It’s this diversity that draws the attention of the world’s tour companies.

Alabama’s Gulf Coast, the twin communities of Orange Beach and Gulf Shores offers 32-miles of white-sand beaches, fresh seafood and live music. The recent addition of several hotels, including the only hotel along two miles of beaches in a state park, has increased the housing options for tour companies.

Also in Alabama’s southern region is the historic port city of Mobile. It was the first capital of the Louisiana Territory, before being moved two hours west to New Orleans. America’s first Mardi Gras celebration was staged in the port city of Mobile, where visitors can catch the spirit at Mardi Gras Park with its colorful statues and the Mobile Carnival Museum. History buffs will like touring Historic Oakleigh and the Bragg-Mitchell Mansion, two of Mobile’s stately antebellum homes, and the USS Alabama Battleship from World War II. GulfQuest: National Maritime Museum of the Gulf of Mexico has interactive exhibits on maritime topics like commerce, navigation, hurricanes and shipwrecks. At Bellingrath Gardens and Home in nearby Theodore, there’s always something in bloom, from azaleas in the spring and roses in summer to chrysanthemums in autumn and camellias in winter. It is for all these reasons Mobile is becoming a twin city stay with New Orleans for many international visitors.

In Central Alabama, Montgomery, the state’s capital, and Birmingham, its largest city, have museums and memorials that chronicle the tragedies and triumphs of the civil rights movement led by Dr. Martin Luther King and other activists in the 1950s and ’60s. Tourists from all over the world are drawn to shrines like the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and Montgomery’s Rosa Parks Museum and new Legacy Museum. Tuskegee claims several key African-American historical sites, including a museum that honors the heroic feats of black World War II pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen. Birmingham is home to Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum, which boasts the world’s largest collection of motorcycles. In Montgomery, the six blocks of Old Alabama Town comprise 50 restored buildings from the 19th century and early 20th century.

In Northern Alabama, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville showcases one of the world’s largest collections of space and rocket hardware, with artifacts such as the Saturn V moon rocket and exhibits that simulate the experience of space flight. At Huntsville’s Alabama Constitution Village, reenactors in period clothing demonstrate pioneer trades and crafts.

Alabama’s musical heritage comes alive in the Muscle Shoals/Florence area, where visitors can tour sound studios that hosted recording artists such as Aretha Franklin, Cher, Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. At the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Tuscumbia, you’ll learn about talented people from Alabama, climb aboard a tour bus used by the group Alabama and make your own music in an actual recording booth.

For the complete article please see

Huntsville and Muscle Shoals Sound Studio featured in Australian newspapers
Editor’s Note: This article is part of a continuing series of articles by travel journalist Rob McFarland who visited the state last Fall. His trip was part of a Brand USA and Travel South initiative and was organized by Brian Jones and Surinder Manku with the Alabama Tourism Department. The articles appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper and its Sunday counterpart the Sun-Herald with a combined print and online readership of more than 2 million. The first article is about McFarland’s visit to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center. The second features his visit to the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.

Huntsville: Space and Rocket Center is nerd heaven
Houston gets all the glory when it comes to space exploration. It was from the city’s Johnson Space Center that scientists co-ordinated the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969 that famously put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon.

But who did all the hard work developing the technology that got the American astronauts up there to make history? For that story, you need to visit Huntsville, Alabama.

At the end of World War II, the US government secretly recruited more than 1600 of Germany’s best scientists to work in the military. One of the most influential was Wernher von Braun, a brilliant engineer who’d worked on the Nazi’s rocket program. After joining the newly-created National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1960, he and his Huntsville-based team went on to create the Saturn V, the game-changing rocket that would eventually put man on the moon.

You can see a reconstruction of Braun’s office in the US Space & Rocket Center, a vast museum on the outskirts of Huntsville that shows the – literally – ground-breaking propulsion work that not only sent people into space, but also launched hundreds of satellites and facilitated the Space Shuttle program.

Since 1982, the centre has run a successful Space Camp, where kids from all over the world can learn about space exploration (Australia is the No. 1 international participant). In June last year, Serena Auñón-Chancellor became the fourth Space Camp alumni to make it into space.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and there will be celebrations all over the country. While most will commemorate the landing on July 19, Huntsville will focus on the launch three days before. Numerous events are planned, including parades, concerts and an attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the most rockets launched simultaneously.

Even if you don’t visit for the anniversary, the centre has enough exhibits and artefacts to keep space nerds entertained for days. Highlights include a live feed from the International Space Station, a Smithsonian lab full of engineering challenges for kids and several fascinating mock-ups depicting life in space (who knew astronauts recycle their own urine and sleep standing up?)

Outside in the Rocket and Shuttle Parks is an impressive assortment of aircraft and rocketry, including the training planes used by Shuttle pilots and a Saturn V replica.

Of course, for most people the highlight is seeing an actual Saturn V, which is displayed, on its side, in a cavernous hall in the neighbouring Davidson Center for Space Exploration.

To this day, it remains the tallest, heaviest and most powerful rocket developed. During testing, it shook the foundations of Huntsville houses and registered as an earthquake 150 kilometres away.

Standing beneath this 111-metre behemoth is quietly humbling and it gives you a new respect for the astronauts who risked their lives every time they climbed into the tiny capsule at its zenith.

Since this pinnacle, America’s space program has faltered to the point where the US now pays the Russians to launch things. Hopefully, the Space Launch System (SLS) will rectify that. Developed in Huntsville, this revolutionary new rocket will be the most powerful  built – a Saturn V-lookalike capable of sending people to the Moon, Mars and even beyond.

Muscle Shoals Sound Studio tour: The recording studio tour that makes adults weep with nostalgia
In December 1969, the Rolling Stones flew to Alabama by private jet to spend three days in a former coffin factory. Each evening they would arrive at 8pm and work for 12 hours straight, writing and recording through the night. By the time they left they’d cut “Brown Sugar,” “You Gotta Move” and “Wild Horses.”

In the late 1960s and early ’70s, more than 200 albums were recorded in this unassuming concrete building on the outskirts of Muscle Shoals by stars including Aretha Franklin, Bob Dylan and Paul Simon. Seventy-five of them went gold and 14 reached multi-platinum.

Clearly, it wasn’t the dilapidated venue that lured artists from all over the world; instead, it was the distinctive sound produced by the four session musicians  who owned it. Known as the Swampers, the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section comprised keyboardist Barry Beckett, drummer Roger Hawkins, bassist David Hood and guitarist Jimmy Johnson. Not only did they have a unique, soulful Southern style, but they happily played with black artists at a time when the state was still fiercely segregated.

After nine years they outgrew the space, moving to another studio nearby. The venue fell into disrepair and might easily have been forgotten were it not for filmmaker Greg Camalier. His 2013 documentary about the region’s extraordinary musical heritage, entitled “Muscle Shoals,” inspired Beats headphones founder Dr. Dre to donate $1 million towards its refurbishment. Four years later, the studio was once again open for recordings and tours.

Our guide today is Terrell Benton, an Alabama native who used to run a record store in nearby Florence. He knew the Swampers personally and even employed their kids in his shop. “They were just four country boys from Alabama,” he says, “who happened to be phenomenal musicians.”

We begin in the basement, a cosy, low-ceilinged space lined with album covers. The studio’s first release was by Cher, who named it 3614 Jackson Highway, based on the building’s address. Far from a runaway success, it peaked at No 160 in the charts.

After the Stones visited later that year, more hits followed and soon everyone from Joe Cocker to Cat Stevens wanted to record there. Lynyrd Skynyrd even name-dropped the Swampers in their Top 10 hit, “Sweet Home Alabama.”

We head upstairs into the ’70s-era studio, whose walls are still lined with blocks of polystyrene for sound insulation. “Originally, the building had a tin roof,” says Benton, “so bands had to stop playing whenever it rained.”

Much of the furniture is original as are the monitors and the baby grand piano. Benton points out the toilet where Keith Richards locked himself away to finish writing Wild Horses and the outdoor porch where Rod Stewart would listen to his first cuts.

Since the tour started in January 2017, more than 40,000 people from 40 countries have visited. For many it’s a poignant reminder of their youth. “There was one guy from London who cried the whole way round,” says Benton.

Perhaps more importantly, the venue is once again a working studio. The Black Keys and Australian band the Soul Movers have both recorded here since it reopened.

On the way out, Benton pauses and steals one last glance back inside. “I still get goosebumps every time I walk in here,” he says. “There’s just something special about this weird little room.”

For the complete articles please see

Richard Thomas to star in national tour of ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’
From the article by Mary Colurso on

Move over, Gregory Peck.

For some fans of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” those are fighting words, but Richard Thomas is set to star as Atticus Finch in a national touring production that’s based on Harper Lee’s novel.

Thomas, 67, will take over the role immortalized by Peck in the 1962 screen version, and most recently played by Jeff Daniels on Broadway. This new version of “Mockingbird” will be Aaron Sorkin’s Broadway adaptation of the story, with a different cast and a traveling agenda that’s touted as a two-year, coast-to-coast tour.

Bartlett Sher will direct, as he did on Broadway with Daniels in the lead role.

According to media reports, the “Mockingbird” tour is set to start Aug. 25, 2020, at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The rest of the cast hasn’t been confirmed, and other cities and dates haven’t been announced. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “the tour is expected to hit virtually every state in the country.”

Thomas is probably best known for his Emmy-winning role as John-Boy in “The Waltons,” a CBS drama that aired from 1972 to 1981. He’s had a long career in television, movies and theater, including appearances on Showtime’s “Billions,” NBC’s “The Blacklist” and FX’s “The Americans.” In 2017, Thomas appeared in a revival of Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes” and received a Tony nomination for that role.

“I’m thrilled to have been invited to play Atticus Finch,” Thomas said in a prepared statement. “To be entrusted with the opportunity of bringing one of our greatest American stories to our great American playhouses across the country is a privilege. The play has galvanized audiences with its timeliness and its timelessness, and to join the ranks of the tremendous Jeff Daniels and Aaron Sorkin in carrying on the legacy of Harper Lee is a great honor. I’m a very happy actor and I can’t wait to get started.”

The Broadway adaptation of “Mockingbird” is a box office hit, selling out performances at the Shubert Theatre in New York City.

“The production recently became the highest-grossing American play in Broadway history,” The Hollywood Reporter says, “with grosses to date of $42 million, not including an additional $22 million-plus in advance sales.”

“Mockingbird” earned nine Tony nominations this year, including a nod for Daniels as Best Actor in a Play. Two other cast members, Celia Keenan-Bolger, who plays Scout, and Gideon Glick, cast as Dill, are nominated for Best Featured Actress and Best Featured Actor in a play.

For some, Peck’s Oscar-winning portrayal of Atticus remains the gold standard, and Alabama native Lee was said to heartily approve of his casting when her 1960 novel was adapted for the screen. Many “Mockingbird” scholars believe the character of Atticus — a thoughtful, idealistic lawyer who defends a black man accused of raping a white woman in small-town Alabama — was inspired by Lee’s father, Amasa Coleman Lee.

Daniels, 64, has earned his own share of kudos in the role of Atticus, including a thumb’s up from The New York Times. (“Mr. Daniels’s unfussy mastery is useful throughout,” said reviewer Jesse Green.)

For the complete article please see

Music Hall of Fame has best April attendance ever
From the article by Russ Corey on

Alabama Music Hall of Fame Director Sandra Burroughs told members of the board of directors on Friday the music attraction had its best April ever with attendance of 3,255 people.

For the year, 7,510 visitors have toured the attraction, Burroughs said.

Cash and credit card sales have brought in just over $32,000, while the newly renovated banquet hall has generated $3,950 in revenue.

The banquet room has been painted and a new wood-like floor has been added. She said several local organizations have rented the facility, or will be renting it in the future.

Since becoming the new director in January, Burroughs has met with numerous groups and attended various events to promote the facility.

“We had Lexington and Colbert County school systems that came in and did art shows in our lobby,” Burroughs said.

She and other hall of fame employees will be attending the Council for Leaders in Alabama Schools event next month in Montgomery to showcase the hall of fame, and encourage schools outside the Shoals to schedule field trips to the attraction.

Board member Judy Hood said the hall of fame is hosting an induction banquet in 2020, but the date has not been confirmed.

Burroughs said despite not having a date, two tables have already been sold.

For the complete article please see

Meet the Grand Hotel’s full-time resident
From the article by Breck Pappas on

Patrick McDonald is out of bed by 8 a.m., without the help of an alarm clock. After opening his laptop and checking in on the world, he steps out of his suite at the Grand Hotel, descends the main staircase, glides past the sitting room and its four-sided fireplace and enters the Grand Hall.

“Good morning, Mr. McDonald,” a genteel hostess says with a nod.

“Good morning, Jennifer,” he replies.

The tall gentleman walks slowly to his usual seat in the dining room, situated against a window. Jasmine doesn’t bother bringing over a menu. The kitchen knows this guest.

“What’ll it be today, Mr. McDonald?”

He pauses for a moment before deciding on oatmeal with almonds, strawberries, yogurt and coffee with a dash of cream. While he waits, McDonald strikes up courteous conversations with other servers before catching the eye of a buffet attendant, who makes her way over to his table.

“Would you like your croissants this morning, Mr. McDonald?”

“That would be great,” he answers, smiling. “Thank you.”

The attendant knows that McDonald favors the smaller croissants of the bake shop to the larger ones of the buffet. She also knows to return to his table with the most delicate and flaky of the batch. She enjoys spoiling him.

Throughout breakfast, McDonald doesn’t pay his fellow diners much attention, nor does he attract theirs. The daily hustle and bustle “goes on around me,” he explains. And so he sits, content with his thoughts and his croissants and his staff.

After finishing the meal, he ambles to his car, dispatching goodbyes to Theresa at the front desk, Greg at valet and eventually Tonya at the front gate. They know it won’t be long before they see Mr. McDonald again, because they’ve witnessed the routine for as long as they’ve worn the uniform. It’s a routine, after all, years in the making.

An Awakening
McDonald isn’t a guest at the Grand Hotel. At least, not in the traditional sense. Because for the past two years, the 72-year-old has lived at the luxury resort as a full-time resident — a silver-haired, south Alabama Eloise of sorts.

“I just live like you would at home, basically,” he explains. “It’s not like I’m at a resort. All this activity is going on around me, but this is my home.”

Rather, it will be his home for another five days. Within the week, McDonald will move into the cottage he’s been renovating in downtown Fairhope. While that might seem like the end of some era, it’s simply the latest chapter in what is undoubtedly one of the most unusual stories in the hotel’s long, venerable history.

On this morning, McDonald sits in a comfortable chair in Bucky’s Lounge, speaking slowly and deliberately.

“I knew Bucky,” he says, referring to the now-legendary employee Bucky Miller, a hotel staple for over 60 years. “He was clearly a savant when it came to names. He had this incredible ability to recall the names of people he’d seen the year before, or even five years before.”

McDonald’s own relationship with the hotel began in 1992, when he built a home a couple miles south of the establishment. He estimates that, since that time, he’s averaged about a meal a day at the resort. When asked where he ranks among the hotel’s most devoted regulars, he says he’s “not sure how you’d compare it.”

“I used to come to the Birdcage (now Bucky’s) and eat for years, and there was a married couple who came here for a drink every night for 30 years,” he says. “They were a fixture.”

McDonald himself has never married. There was a girl many years ago, whom he met during college while working a summer at Yellowstone National Park. But caught in the midst of the revolutionary 1960s, McDonald wasn’t tethered to the formulaic life of the generation before him.

“I was on no path,” he tries to explain. “It didn’t occur to me to get married, and it didn’t occur to me not to get married.”

With his bachelorhood in consideration, a question arises after almost three hours of conversation: Is McDonald married to the Grand Hotel?

He takes a long pause. “No,” he says. “I’m attached to it. And I’ve been through enough cycles to know I would never leave it or purge it from my system. But marriage is something else. I think that is a parallel path — parallel emotion. I think love sort of owns you … and I don’t feel like this owns me.”

A product of Mobile, McDonald graduated from McGill Institute in 1964 before studying architecture and eventually engineering at Auburn.

“That’s where I woke up,” he says. “About that time, there was a total change in society. Either because of the [Vietnam] War or whatever, we were just free to think about all kinds of things that maybe my older brother didn’t even think about — a seismic shift.”

For McDonald, this meant a complete and irreversible change in the way he viewed the world, as well as his place in it.

“I’ve tried to go back to sleep,” he jokes. “But it’s hard to unlearn.”

His awakening also led to a love of travel, which continued even after being drafted into the Army in 1970 and stationed in Germany, where the idea was to contain Russian aggression in post-WWII Europe.

“Every moment we were free, I was gone,” he says, reminiscing about the miles he tallied across the continent in his Volkswagen bus.

A server delivers a coffee to McDonald, and he thanks her by name. He says he knows the names of most employees on the hospitality side of the hotel.

“I was in the hospital business, and you know, I might have had 2,000 employees. You just get in the habit of learning names. I think it’s kind of silly to see somebody every day and not know their name.”

After one and half years in the Army, McDonald decided to pursue a career in hospital administration. He spent about 10 years running hospitals across the country and another 10 years consulting before getting the itch to attempt an early retirement.

“I don’t know what possessed me to think I was old enough [to retire]. It’s not like I had gathered a whole bunch of money,” he says, still bemused after all these years about the forces that motivate his decisions.

“This is where my story with the hotel really begins.”

The Road to Point Clear
Despite having seen so much of the world, McDonald says he “didn’t have a feeling for another place other than here.” Following an instinct, he bought an empty lot just south of the hotel in 1989.

“Half of my comfort with moving here was this hotel,” he says. “Fairhope didn’t exist in my mind. It was the hotel and a mile or two north or south. If you look at it in terms of colors, this was the only color, and everything else was black and white.”

You see, McDonald doesn’t make the big decisions like the rest of us. He describes how, at crucial moments in his life, “cellular reactions” have helped guide his hand, and it was precisely this type of gut reaction to the aesthetic of the Grand Hotel and the surrounding area that has anchored him here for almost three decades.

“Fairhope wasn’t like it is today,” he explains. “It had no gravity center, no pull to it, no attraction. But the hotel did.”

At 45 years old, McDonald moved to Point Clear, into a house he built to match the aesthetic of the hotel up the road.

“I would come [to the hotel] in the morning, have coffee and breakfast, get a newspaper, sit down. It was part of my life really — part of my house. I could leave my home, where I had built something that suited my aesthetic vision, and I could come here where there was a similar aesthetic, so it wasn’t like I was leaving home.”

Aside from providing the bachelor with an opportunity to socialize, the resort seemed to cast a magical spell over McDonald in those early days.

“There will be times when it’s like a musical. It’s not a musical at the moment, but for many years, especially in the beginning, I would drive on the grounds, and somehow this music would start playing. It’d be like a play — like I was driving onto a stage, and I was becoming a character in this theater called the Grand Hotel. A theater of the real.”

In the meantime, McDonald had made some wise commercial and residential investments in Fairhope and, after 14 years, moved into a cottage in town. His routine at the Grand remained unchanged, until another house project, which took from 2006 to 2015 to complete, near Montrose complicated his daily visits.

“It wasn’t convenient enough to make the hotel a part of every day,” he says. “I had to think about coming. But this place wanted me here, and I wanted to be here.”

Hello, Goodbye
So in 2016, McDonald sold the finished home and, without another property to move into, settled at the Grand. “This has always been my second home,” he says. “It’s just that, at the moment, it happens to be my first home.”

Having become a member at the neighboring Lakewood Club in the early ’90s, McDonald is eligible for a discounted room rate, as well as food and beverage savings. But he says the real trick to living at a resort is to create a “range” for oneself.

“For an individual to have a relationship with an institution, you have to have some way of doing it. I live with the hotel, but in a range that belongs to me,” he explains. Even in the midst of hotel renovations, McDonald has a way of living on the periphery.

“If I followed their wave pattern, I would be disrupted. But I choose my own path.”

As the conversation turns to his impending departure from his home of two years, McDonald naturally becomes reflective about the experience. “What surprises me is how much [the staff] cares about my being here,” he says. “Because I don’t really expect that — I’m just living. And suddenly I’m aware that there are a fair number of people who really care … so that’s heartwarming in a way. There are times when that really breaks through.

“I take none of this for granted,” he continues. “It’s not like I expect them to allow me to do this. It’s pretty easy to be on stage for three days and perform for a client, but when the client never goes away, that’s a whole different thing. Their actions say more than I could ever say about the place — that they’ve allowed me to be here and to make it a home.”

Will he ever return as a full-time guest?

“There’s no reason why it wouldn’t happen. I seem to go through these phases with houses; I like creating them more than living in them.

“I’m not really leaving,” he says. “I made sure of that by not moving outside the range of the hotel.”

McDonald sweeps his gaze around the lounge, where Bucky once greeted guests by name and where an old married couple sank 30 years of nightcaps.

“I’ll never leave it,” he says. “I never have left it.”

For the complete article please see

Welcome Center greeting tourism partners
The Alabama Tourism Department-Welcome Center Program will be welcoming guests throughout the state to increase the awareness of the economic, social and cultural impact that tourism has on the local, regional and statewide communities. We invite our tourism partners to participate at each Center from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. (central standard time) by bringing special promotions, coupons, etc., and share in our hospitality on the following dates:

May 23: Ardmore Welcome Center
May 30: DeKalb Welcome Center

Please contact the Welcome Center managers to RSVP.

2019 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism
The 2019 Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism is August 17-20, at the Von Braun Center and Embassy Suites in Huntsville. The conference provides tourism professionals a chance to gather and learn about the economic impact of the industry on the Alabama economy, learn new strategies for marketing local Alabama attractions and amenities to visitors, raise money for scholarships through silent auctions and celebrate achievements.

Registration and Reservations at

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
Summer is here which means travelers are making their way to Alabama for family vacations and weekend getaways. Give website visitors a great experience by keeping current information and photographs on your Partner page. Ready to update your page?

Head over to today.


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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Alabama Tourism Department