Tourism Tuesdays Oct. 29, 2019

Why Gulf Shores, Alabama is worth visiting

Lynching memorial honors thousands victimized by hate

Taylor Hicks joins board of Alabama Music Hall of Fame

Huntsville/Madison County CVB names new director

We need more people like Dexter Avenue Baptist Church’s Wanda Battle

Hood presented with replica of stolen 1961 Fender

Scottsboro Boys to get museum in Decatur

2019 Stars of the Industry finalists announced

Boutique Air announces partnership with American Airlines

Wild game eatery coming to Tuscaloosa

Alabama Tourism Department’s 2020 Spring tourism workshop date set

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website


Why Gulf Shores, Alabama Is Worth Visiting
From the article on (Idaho Falls)

Gulf Shores, Alabama is one of the most underrated travel destinations in the U.S. The unspoiled natural beauty of this oasis is complemented by welcoming people, mouth-watering food and rich history. Here are four reasons why Gulf Shores is a hidden gem worth visiting.

It’s Affordable
Because Gulf Shores is not as well-known as some of the more popular beach vacation destinations such as Florida or California, it has not been as overrun by tourists. This relative obscurity keeps prices down and the crowds at bay. A variety of hotel and condo accommodations offer something at every price point. If you are looking for a beach vacation that is more affordable without all of the tourists, Gulf Shores has what you are looking for.

Perfect for Animal Lovers
Animal enthusiasts will be delighted in all of the creatures that call this stretch of coastline home. Its close proximity to the Alabama Coastal Birding Trail allows you to get up close and personal with more than 50 birding sites and over 400 birds. Visitors to Gulf Shores can also participate in an innovative sea turtle nest adoption program. As a participant, you will provide funding for tracking and monitoring these endangered sea turtles.

Beautiful Beaches
The soft and sugar-white sand of the Gulf Shores coastline is perfect for frolicking in the sun and the surf. A large number of public access points makes it easy to enjoy miles of sandy beaches. A variety of water recreational activities such as fishing, parasailing, and swimming provide endless entertainment while visiting this region. The pristine beaches have not been disturbed as much as some of the more popular beaches, making it a perfect place to connect with Mother Nature in all of her beauty.

Delicious Food
You will certainly not go hungry when visiting this area. Gulf Shores is home to many high-rated restaurants offering a smorgasbord of tastes for any personal preference. This beach destination is known for its mastery of a bevy of cuisines. From fresh seafood to Mexican to authentic Cajun cuisine, you will love indulging in all of the best foods of Gulf Shores.

You will feel all of your troubles melt away as you sink your feet into the stunning white sand and breathe in the salty ocean air of Gulf Shores. This hidden gem will impress you and make you want to return again and again.

For the complete article please see

Lynching memorial honors thousands victimized by hate
From the article by Jan Percival Lipscomb on

Last year, “60 Minutes” special correspondent Oprah Winfrey took her viewers to Montgomery, Ala., in the heart of the Deep South. It was at this spot along the Alabama River that slave traders bought and sold thousands of kidnapped Africans in the old Court Square; where Jefferson Davis occupied the First White House of the Confederacy as its first president, and where seamstress Rosa Parks stood her ground.

Here on a hill overlooking the Alabama State Capitol, Oprah gave us a first look at an architecturally spectacular new memorial, one that most of us had never heard of. Stepping up to tackle one of America’s most tragic and violent chapters, Oprah introduced us to The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, also known as the national lynching memorial, the first and only of its kind.

Up and down the rows of 6-foot-tall steel monuments walked a subdued Oprah, guided by her host Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI), and visionary behind the National Memorial for Peace and Justice.

Skimming the names of lynching victims, Winfrey said, “This is over 4,000 that have been documented, but of course, there are more, thousands more. Will we ever even know how many?”

Stevenson, whose great-grandparents were slaves in Virginia, is a Harvard-trained public interest attorney and the author of the 2014 New York Times bestseller, “Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption.” A film adaptation of this memoir, starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, will be released on Christmas day.

A visit to the lynching memorial starts at eye level. But as guests proceed to move in a spiral direction, monuments rise from ground level to hang high from above, a symbolic representation of the crime of lynching.

Each of the 800 steel monuments represents a county where a racial terror lynching took place, with the names of its victims engraved on it. The monuments are hung in alphabetical order by state then alphabetical order by county, to make it easier to locate specific geographic locations and individuals. It was distressing, but not surprising, to see my late mother’s home county of Chatham, N.C., represented in the memorial.

The lynching memorial documents victims killed in the decades after the Civil War, from 1877 to 1950; most were murdered in the 11 former Confederate states.

“These folks were promised freedom after Emancipation and what they got instead was terror, trauma, lynching,” said Stevenson.

Many of the men, women and children (yes, women and children) memorialized here had never been identified before the research started in 2010 by the Equal Justice Initiative. Some of their stories are displayed on the walls of the memorial, illustrating a range of allegations: from talking, arguing or corresponding with a white person, to explaining sharecropper rights or registering black voters.

“Thousands of African Americans are unknown victims of racial terror lynchings, whose deaths cannot be documented, many whose names will never be known,” reads an inscription. “They are all honored here.”

To design Montgomery’s six-acre lynching memorial, Stevenson and the Equal Justice Initiative hired MASS Design Group, a Boston-based nonprofit known worldwide for its striking work in socially responsible architectural projects. Memorial grounds include a field where duplicates of each monument lay in wait for their corresponding counties to place them in their own communities. Conversations are now under way with dozens of localities seeking to claim their monument.

“Uneven rusted steel is meant to echo the many shades and skin tones of those African Americans lynched,” is the way Winfrey described the steel monuments. “The markers are suspended to evoke the horror of being strung up and hanged from a tree.”

By integrating architecture, sculpture, art and literature, the memorial puts in context the sheer terror perpetrated on black Americans following the Civil War. It’s not unusual to see guests sitting in quiet contemplation, or struggling with their emotions. On my visit, I met a husband and wife from Germany, both well into their 80s. In broken English and through her tears, the woman said to me, “On our shoulders are the Jews.” I understood exactly what she meant.

Rising as a national gateway to conversation, education, inspiration and reconciliation, this brilliant new memorial is surrounded by other important landmarks, including its companion venue, The Legacy Museum: From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration. Housed in a warehouse where slaves were once imprisoned, the Legacy Museum picks up where the lynching memorial leaves off. Tracing the evolution of racial inequality from slavery to mob violence to segregation, the museum puts its focus on today’s iterations; specifically, mass incarceration and police violence.

Funded entirely by private donations, the lynching memorial and legacy museum have already made a positive impact on Montgomery’s economy, attracting more than 600,000 visitors since opening in April 2018.

In September, the Alabama Tourism Department named the memorial and museum as the 2019 Attraction of the Year. Summer is prime time, when children are out of school. Organizers hope that one day soon, all Alabama eighth graders will have the opportunity to visit the memorial and museum as part of their standard curriculum.

As Oprah said as she opened her 60 Minutes segment, “There is a reckoning taking place in America over how we remember our history,” and the lynching memorial may help facilitate that reconciliation.

“There is nothing like it in the country,” wrote The New York Times in its April 25, 2018, review. “Which is the point.”

For the complete article please see

Taylor Hicks joins board of Alabama Music Hall of Fame
From the article by Mary Colurso on

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame has a new board member, and he plays a mean harmonica.

Taylor Hicks — a Hoover native, singer-songwriter, country-soul enthusiast and former “American Idol” winner — was appointed to the hall’s board of directors by Gov. Kay Ivey.

“I have no doubt that Taylor will do a great job as a board member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame,” Ivey said in a prepared statement. “As a successful musician, he has always represented the state of Alabama well. I know he will continue to make his home state proud.”

In his new role, Hicks will support the hall’s mission to “honor, support and increase awareness of Alabama’s vast array of music achievers,” according to a press release. Along with other board members, he’ll play a significant role in determining inductees for the hall of fame in Tuscumbia.

“As I’ve always said, the people of Alabama will let you know if you can do three things: cook, sing or throw a football,” Hicks said in a statement. “I’m honored to have been invited to join the Alabama Music Hall of Fame board and look forward to the work we will do together to recognize and honor our state’s rich musical history.”

Hicks, 43, has ties to the hall of fame, receiving its American Music Awards in 2008. He has performed at the annual induction and awards ceremony, helping the hall to honor luminaries ranging from Ernie Ashworth, a country singer and Grand Ole Opry star, to Odetta, a folk and blues icon who was instrumental to the civil rights movement.

Hicks has donated career memorabilia to the music hall, including an eye-catching purple jacket that he wore on national television during his “Idol” run in 2006. The jacket, which drew applause and criticism from TV viewers, made an appearance on the “Idol” tour that year, as Hicks headlined shows around the country. The jacket now sits in a display case at the hall, 617 U.S. 72 West.

The Alabama Music Hall of Fame, a nonprofit organization, opened its doors in 1990. The 12,500-square foot museum has welcomed thousands of visitors over its 29-year history, including school groups, historians and music fans.

“Our mission is to honor Alabama’s music achievers and we think it is very fitting to have an artist of his caliber advocating for musicians, entertainers and songwriters throughout our state,” Sandra Burroughs, executive director of the music hall, said via a press release. “He brings firsthand knowledge of the music industry to the board that will enhance our ability to make decisions that celebrate the state’s rich music history and also encourage other Alabama-based musicians to follow their dreams. Taylor is an unwavering advocate for the hall of fame.”

Hicks, who lives in Nashville, has forged a diverse career that includes concert tours, theater, TV appearances and residencies at the Bally’s and Paris hotels in Las Vegas. He has three studio albums to his credit — including an early fan favorite, 2005′s “Under the Radar” — and another record set for release in 2020.

Hicks starred in a revival of “Shenandoah” earlier this year at the Serenbe Playhouse in Georgia, and hosted three seasons of “State Plate,” a food and travel series on INSP.

He returns to his hometown for performances at venues such as the Lyric Theatre, and will be there on Dec. 6, covering the music of Elton John and Christmas classics.

For the complete article please see

Huntsville/Madison County CVB names new director
The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has named Kristen Pepper as the new Director of Marketing for the CVB. Pepper, who has served as Marketing Manager with the organization for the past three years, will lead the CVB’s marketing department, which has expanded to include a full-time Social Media Specialist and is currently seeking a graphic designer.

“Kristen has done an outstanding job at the CVB as Marketing Manager, and I’m excited to see what she will accomplish with her enthusiasm and professional attitude in this new position,” said Judy Ryals, President/CEO of the CVB.

Pepper joined the CVB in 2016, and in her time there has been recognized as a 30 Under 30 for Destinations International, as well as the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association’s Young Professional of the Year in 2018.

As part of her role, she will oversee the CVB’s marketing and promotional efforts, including media relations, advertising, seasonal campaigns, and digital strategy.

We need more people like Dexter Avenue Baptist Church’s Wanda Battle
From the article by Safiya Charles on

Wanda Battle stands as tall as a giant before the visitors seated in the sanctuary of Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.

She’s just explained that the ceiling above the pulpit where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached fiery sermons that would ignite Montgomery’s black gentry and fuel the Civil Rights Movement is made of tin embossed tiles. The detail seems slight, until Battle bursts into operatic song, her voice doing somersaults through the aisles.

“Great for acoustics,” she says through cherry-red painted lips, wearing cat-eyeglasses and a smile so disarming, even the steeliest tourists don’t stand a chance.

What an experience it must have been to hear 25-year-old King’s voice bouncing off the walls on a Sunday morning. Now in her 60s and the official tour director for the historic church, Battle is too young to remember.

But there are things she does recollect; like giving her bed to the Harvard students that stayed with her family when they came South to cover the movement for the Southern Courier. And the tacky mud that covered her feet at St. Jude Catholic Parish’s field where thousands gathered to hear Sammy Davis Jr., Joan Baez and Pete Seeger sing, before marching on to the Capitol the next day.

Casual memories, perhaps lost on a 9-year-old girl, but momentous to the world that was watching.

The field remains, but Battle’s childhood home is long gone. Dorsey Street, where the Howards lived, is now part of Interstate 65. And the Montgomery Improvement Association office where her mother and sisters worked, and Dr. King once held meetings has been demolished.

“I didn’t realize it until I came to work here, how much that training and upbringing impacted the journey of my life,” Battle said. “I’ve found my purpose.”

It’s only when she steps off the platform and calls the 30-odd people at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church to form a circle and join hands, that it’s clear Battle is no giant. Standing between two strangers, her hands gripping theirs, she barely reaches 5 feet 6 inches in height.

She is big on affirmations. Thank you, I love you, I appreciate you. It’s hard to walk away from an interaction with Battle without feeling brighter about the world. You get the feeling that when she looks into your eyes, she truly sees you.

Then, there’s the singing — a relic of her voice training at Spelman College. Tours aren’t simply an opportunity for sight-seeing. To her, they’re about connection. With each group, she reserves a portion of the time spent in the sanctuary for dialogue.

Some ask questions about the church. One visitor shares his fear of death, and another her appreciation for life. Battle reaches out to hug each person one-by-one. Hearty hugs. The kind that remind you of your favorite aunt’s squeeze. The type that make you feel as if there’s no other place you’d rather be.

“I had a tour and one man said to me ‘I’m not a hugger,’ so I told him, ‘I’m blowing you a kiss,’” Battle said, as the room erupted in laughter. Her spirit is infectious, as one visitor noted with wry sarcasm when he suggested Battle might consider ramping up her energy.

Her tour is part history lesson, therapy session and popular trivia. She leads visitors down into the church’s basement where Dr. King’s office can be found. The broad wooden desk where he wrote his evocative speeches is still there. As well as the leather tufted chair he sat in on Sundays, and faded family photos, one showing a rare glimpse of the famed preacher as a child.

It’s hard to imagine Battle as anyone other than the confident woman standing before this crowd of travelers, moored by her power and presence. It’s shocking when she shares that she was once depressed and suicidal.

“I was comparing myself to other people and feeling like I never measured up.”

Fifteen years ago, things changed. Battle said she had a talk with God and asked him to remove the fear that defined her life. She moved from Chicago where she had been living with her soon-to-be divorced husband, to Atlanta where her mother and siblings lived. Then from Atlanta back to Montgomery.

It took her some time to come to terms with the fact that most of the people she had known growing up were dead or gone. She was in the process of picking up the pieces when a chance encounter at a dinner party led to an unexpected job offer.

Perhaps Battle’s adopted surname is far more fitting than she could have ever imagined. Rocked in the cradle of the civil rights movement, fighting an internal and external struggle for survival in one of the most turbulent periods in modern American history.

“This work has given me a certain honor that I would have never known,” she said.

Today, Battle conducts roughly five tours a week — light work in comparison to the marathon training she did for almost two years, when she was the church’s sole tour guide in 2014. Back then, she led 24 tours a week.

Since the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice were opened last year, the church has seen its share of visitors increase. What was once a quiet season from September to December isn’t so quiet anymore.

And neither is she. Battle has chosen love over fear, and light over darkness. With each tour, she offers visitors a prayer: “Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”

For the complete article please see

Hood presented with replica of stolen 1961 Fender
From the article by Russ Corey on

David Hood smiled as his fingers glided across the strings of the “new” Fender Jazz bass guitar he’d just been given by fellow bassist Drew Tomecko in the the corner of Muscle Shoals Sound Studio where he’d played on so many hit recording sessions.

Hood was smiling because he liked the sound and feel of the guitar, which is a handmade replica of the 1961 Fender Jazz bass that was stolen while Hood and Swampers drummer Roger Hawkins were on tour with the band Traffic in 1973.

The original bass was stolen from the band’s semi-trailer before a gig in New York City along with several other guitars, including one legendary rocker Eric Clapton had given Traffic singer/guitarist Steve Winwood, Hood said.

He said the guitars were stolen before the show at the Academy Of Music, so he had to run to Manny’s Music in midtown Manhattan to buy a new bass.

Tomecko said he met Hood during the Trissl Sports Cars Uber Region Fest V in Florence in June. Tomecko was playing bass in the Rock ‘N Roll Rebels, a band booked to perform at the event. The next day, Tomecko visited Muscle Shoals Sound and heard the story of the stolen bass.

Hood’s wife, Judy, said before Tomecko left the studio, he said he would make a replica of her husband’s stolen bass.

“It was such an unfortunate situation and since I felt compelled to show my appreciation, I decided to build it,” Tomecko said. “He is a legend in music and one of my inspirations.”

Tomecko is a professional bassist working in the Las Vegas area. He’s been playing bass for 35 years and has been familiar with Hood and Muscle Shoals Sound for most of his career.

“I have only been working on guitars and basses for a few years, just in my spare time,” Tomecko said.

Tomecko said he made the entire body, and built the instrument using genuine fender reissue parts specific to the 1961 Fender Jazz bass, including the neck. He crafted the body from alder wood, the same as the original.

“The body took only a few days to cut and shape,” Tomecko said. “The finish took about a month from start to finish.”

Hood said he bought the bass new in 1961 for $180, but removed the original sunburst finish and refinished it with a walnut stain he’d used on some speaker cabinets. Tomecko said he struggled to get the finish as close as possible to the original.

He said there were no difficult challenges other than making sure the body and neck were properly centered.

“I’ve never been very good at math, so I usually just build them from memory or some pictures he sent helped a lot,” Tomecko said.

David Hood also played the original bass during countless recording sessions.

“Wow,” Hood said when Tomecko opened the case and revealed his gift. “Look how beautiful. It looks so good.”

Hood plugged the bass into his rig in the corner of the studio and began playing.

“I think it’s beautiful,” Hood said. “I’m overwhelmed he built it and came all the way here from Las Vegas. I’m almost speechless.”

Hood said he plans to play the bass, but it will also occupy the corner where Hood played, along with his original bass rig.

“It troubled Drew when he learned about (the theft),” Judy Hood said. “Now we will have a more authentic experience.

For the complete article please see

Scottsboro Boys to get museum in Decatur
From the article by Paul Gattis on

Almost 100 years since being wrongly accused of rape, the nine African Americans known as the “Scottsboro Boys” will be honored in a new museum in Decatur.

The Celebrating Early Old Town with Art board said in an announcement Monday that it would formally unveil plans for the museum at its annual gala in Decatur.

“The multi-million development will be Decatur’s newest and boldest step forward in civil rights history and recognition,” CEOTA said in the announcement. “The primary goal of the museum is to house, display and demonstrate the CEOTA collection and to depict Decatur’s role in the historic trial of the Scottsboro Boys, reflecting the civil rights struggles and victories during that era.”

The nine males, ages 13 to 20, were accused of raping two white women on a train in 1931. Eight of the nine were convicted. The males were first tried and convicted in Scottsboro – verdicts that were eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The jury in the 1933 retrial in Decatur for one of the Scottsboro boys, Haywood Patterson, was overturned by the presiding judge, James Edwin Horton.

In 2013, Gov. Robert Bentley signed legislation exonerating the Scottsboro Boys.

“The story of the Scottsboro Boys lives on through the efforts of artists, historians and scholars,” CEOTA said in its announcement. “This commitment is what feeds CEOTA’s passion to perpetuate the awareness of the story.”

Thom Gossom Jr., a former Auburn University and NFL player who went to a career in acting and as an author, will be the guest speaker at the Nov. 14 CEOTA gala at Ingalls Pavilion in Decatur. The invitation-only event begins with a reception from 5-6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the presentation.

For the complete article please see

2019 Stars of the Industry finalists announced
The Alabama Restaurant & Hospitality Association (ARHA) is pleased to announce the 2019 Stars of the Industry Awards finalists. On Monday, Nov. 11, we will honor the finalists and announce the winners. Finalists are listed in alphabetical order by first name.

Back of the House Hospitality Employee of the Year:
Angelette Singleton – The Westin Huntsville
Benita McKinney – Marriott Birmingham
Dan Yancy – Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook Hotel
Earl Williams – The Hotel at Auburn University
Linda Brazier – Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa – Point Clear

Back of the House Restaurant Employee of the Year:
Danny Ryan – Baumhower’s Victory Grille (Aloha Hospitality) – Tuscaloosa
David Cantey – Grille 29 – Birmingham
Samuel Rivera – Perdido Beach Resort – Orange Beach
Sara Lemmon – Lucy’s – Auburn
Theopolis Burruss – Dauphin’s Restaurant (Aloha Hospitality) – Mobile

Front of the House Restaurant Employee of the Year:
Alex Hickman – Dauphin’s (Aloha Hospitality) – Mobile
Ashleigh Bertone – Dauphin’s (Aloha Hospitality) – Mobile
Crystal Lee – The Hotel at Auburn University
Mallory Cortopassi – Renaissance Battlehouse – Mobile
Neil Cooper – Lucy’s – Auburn

Front of the House Hospitality Employee of the Year:
Amy Phillips – The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa
Bradford Gunther – Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook Hotel
Calvetta Smith – Auburn Marriott Opelika Resort & Spa at Grand National
Jordan Woodrow – Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel
Katie Daniels – The Hotel at Auburn University

Hospitality Department Manager of the Year:
Brandie Durham – The Battle House Renaissance Mobile Hotel & Spa
Courtney Callis – Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa
Eric Murphy – Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort & Spa
Jeff Womack – Sheraton Birmingham Hotel
Jutta McCaulley – The Westin Huntsville/ Element Huntsville

Restaurant Manager of the Year:
Amy Morrell – The Hound – Auburn
Carlos Hernandez – Dreamland BBQ – Montgomery
Ellen Arterburn – The Hangout – Gulf Shores
Gerald Tipton – Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s – Gulf Shores
Regina Burnett – Grille 29 – Huntsville

Small Hotelier of the Year:
Camron Stokes – Holiday Inn Express Auburn & Opelika
Chad Clark – Hampton Inn – Winfield
Michael Jeffreys – Lake Guntersville State Park Lodge
Travis Goodman – Residence Inn – Homewood

Best New Culinarian of the Year:
Brian Paolina – Lucy’s – Auburn
Markus Haeusler – Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa – Point Clear

Humanitarian of the Year:
Hans van der Reijden – Ithaka Hospitality Partners – Auburn
Martha Williams – Renaissance Montgomery Hotel & Spa
Nanda Patel – Summit Investments of Gadsden LLC

Supplier of the Year:
Auto-Chlor Services
Sculpture Hospitality

Tourism Promoter of the Year:
Fred Richardson – City of Mobile Councilman
Gabrielle Barnett – Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s – Gulf Shores
Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa
Herb Malone – Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism

Chef of the Year:
Michael Horne – Bella’s Fine Dining – Dothan
Miguel Figueroa – The Hotel at Auburn University
Robbie Nicolaisen – The Hound – Auburn

Restaurateur of the Year:
Lisa van der Reijden – Lucy’s – Auburn
Shaul Zislin – Hangout Hospitality Group – Gulf Shores

Hotelier of the Year:
Kent Blackinton – Renaissance Mobile Riverview Plaza Hotel
Steve Miller – Sheraton/Westin Birmingham

Spirit Award:
Dan Yancy – Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook Hotel
Joshua Keers – Grand Hotel Golf Resort & Spa
Keisha Echols – Ithaka Hospitality Partners
Lauren Kimbrell – Marriott Birmingham
Natarra Waters – Grand Bohemian Mountain Brook Hotel

Boutique Air announces partnership with American Airlines
From the article by Russ Corey on

Boutique Air has announced a new interline agreement with American Airlines that will allow travelers to book flights from the Shoals through the American Airlines website.

The airline already has a code-sharing partnership with United Airlines, according to a Northwest Alabama Regional Airport news release. That agreement was announced in August 2018.

This means passengers can book flights out of Muscle Shoals on, and

“Now, customers will enjoy a seamless connection experience between either of the two airlines without having to re-check luggage,” Airport Director Barry Griffith said. “Both of these partnerships make it easy for passengers that are flying the Shoals to travel across the country.”

These partnerships eliminate the need for a two-ticket system for several destinations and makes the flight booking process easier than ever.

Boutique Air offers four daily flights to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on an eight-seat Pilatus PC-12 aircraft.

Griffith said Northwest Alabama Regional Airport will especially benefit from the partnership, which allows the airport to provide a new level of convenience to its customers.

This also means your checked luggage will go straight to your final destination.

Hope Frederick, director of web and digital media for the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, called the relationships a positive move.

“We support local air service,” Frederick said. “We want them to grow because it benefits the area.”

She said the Chamber is a big promoter of local air service.

“The service has definitely improved,” Griffith said. “We’re seeing an increase in passengers.”
?For the complete article please see

Wild game eatery coming to Tuscaloosa
From the article by Jason Morton on

Raised on Country Burgers N Grill, a new wild game-based restaurant, is planning to open in downtown Tuscaloosa.

Bison and gator and camel? Oh, my.

Meats from these beasts will be among the offerings of Raised On Country Burgers N Grill, a new wild game-based restaurant coming next week to downtown Tuscaloosa.

Situated at 2217 University Blvd., just to the right of the Children’s Hands-On Museum, the eatery is the concept of Bo Lawrence, a career restaurateur, and businessman Tony Mancuso.

And the idea, Lawrence said, came organically.

“The concept began in a deer stand on a farm,” Lawrence said standing inside the 1,800-square-foot space that was being partially protected by Diesel, his 5-year-old black Labrador retriever.

It will be offering up wild game as available, such as elk, kangaroo (from Australia), camel, yak (from the Himalayas), bison, duck, alligator, rattlesnake, rabbit and snapping turtle.

Raised on Country also will offer a full bar, but that’s not the focus of the business. In fact, the bar used by the previous occupants has been reduced to accommodate more seating.

“We’re food and family,” Lawrence said.

Once the doors open, the restaurant is planning to operate from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays. Sunday hours are still being decided.?

The restaurant is still looking to hire servers and bartenders, too. Those interested are asked to stop by and inquire inside.

Two years ago, Lawrence opened a similar restaurant Hunt Club Burgers N Grill, in his former hometown of Madison.

Now, he and his business partner have relocated to Tuscaloosa to open Raised On Country.

Lawrence said all the meats will come from sustainable suppliers and, at times, some cuts will be unavailable based on harvesting schedules.

Also on the menu will be loaded baked potatoes, salads, hot wings, Angus beef burgers and, from Thursday through Saturday, steaks of various cuts and sizes.

“This ain’t for sissies,” Lawrence said.

For the complete article please see

Alabama Tourism Department’s 2020 Spring tourism workshop date set
If you missed out on participating in the Fall workshop, you’re in luck. The Alabama Tourism Department will host its Spring Tourism Workshop on April 22. The workshop will be held in Montgomery at the Alabama Center for Commerce Building. The workshop is designed to inform our tourism industry partners, event organizers and anyone interested in enhancing tourism in their area. ATD’s staff members will attend this workshop, and you will have an opportunity for one-on-one time with each of them. So, mark your calendars and make plans to attend.

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

“Partner Pointer” for the tourism industry website
Adding images to your Partner profile not only makes your location or event more appealing, it also greatly increases the chances of it being featured elsewhere on Alabama.Travel. Time to sign in, edit your location or event and upload your image.



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: The newsletter can also be accessed online by going to:

To subscribe to the newsletter please contact Dwayne O’Riley at:

Alabama Tourism Department