Alabama’s tourism industry revenue sets all-time record in 2021
Gov. Kay Ivey announced today that recent tourists spending has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, and rose to a record of almost $20 billion in fiscal year 2021.
The revenue exceeded the previous record year of $16.7 billion by some 17 percent. Officials referenced the Alabama Tourism Department’s economic impact report that 28.2 million visitors visited the state last year. Spending was up 47% from the COVID-impacted year of 2020, officials said
Visitors spent $19.6 billion for food, accommodations, travel, shopping and incidentals, according to the tourism department annual report. Guests paid more than $1.1 billion dollars in taxes to state and local governments. Those taxes saved the average state family an estimated $631 a year in taxes for services, officials said.
State tourism director Lee Sentell credited Gov. Ivey’s strategic initiatives for helping the state’s tourism industry almost double in revenue in just 10 years. Revenues went from $10.7 billion in 2012 to $19.7 under Gov. Ivey, he said.
“The governor’s decision to reopen Gulf Coast beaches after the peak of COVID closures helped to mitigate pandemic losses,” said Sentell. “The robust spending by tourists visiting the beaches in 2020 kept the state in the top five in the nation for least percentage loss of revenue at the height of closures.”
During a media conference at the Conecuh Sausage gift shop on I-65, the governor said that a $10 million federal CARES grant provided to the tourism department funded a major digital advertising campaign that featured each of Alabama’s 67 counties. She said the Alabama campaign was seen by more than 268 million prospective travelers.
Sentell also credited a partnership with the Retirement Systems of Alabama and Gray Television that broadcasts Alabama tourism commercials across its network. The Alabama tourism ads have gone from running on 44 stations to 113 nationwide, now reaching 36% of the nation’s households.
Alabama has experienced major growth in travel search activity since 2019, rising from number 30 on the list to number four nationwide, according to a recent Google study by Trips to Discover.