Group & International Travel

Group Travel Contacts

Grey Brennan

Deputy Director

(334) 242-4459

Austin Simmons

Multimedia Producer

334.242.4039

Courtney Austin

Sales
Marketing Administrative Assistant

(334) 242-4674

Jade Moye

Executive Assistant to Deputy Director

334-242-4459

Jamie Martin

Staff Photographer

(334)242-4717

Rosemary Judkins

Multicultural Development

(334) 242-4493

Shawna Faniel

Domestic Sales Manager

334-353-1907

Group Travel Resources

Student Groups Will Love This!

Space Camp for the beach? Gulf Shores launches Gulf Camp for environmental education, ecotourism
From the article by Dennis Pillion on AL.com

Gulf Shores has spent decades building its reputation as a premiere vacation destination.

Now, the city on Alabama’s Gulf Coast is looking to become a leader in environmental education and programming that will bring more families to learn about the ecologies of Alabama’s coastal areas.

“Myself and our city council had this somewhat large vision of what if we could be for the southern part of this state what Huntsville is for the northern part of the state, with space camp,” Gulf Shores Mayor Robert Craft told AL.com.

Gulf Shores is combining almost $13 million in Restore Act funding — money meant to compensate coastal areas after the 2010 BP oil spill — with city funds to build the Gulf Coast Center for Ecotourism and Sustainability, a hub for hosting summer camps and other educational programming to teach children and families about the natural environments of Alabama’s Gulf Coast.

Craft said the oil spill was a jarring reminder of the importance of protecting the environment, and that the camps will help encourage visitors to be ambassadors for environmental stewardship.

“Those of us that stood on the beaches with oil on our feet in that summer of 2010, when nobody came, we realized how totally dependent we are on clean, safe, usable environment,” Craft said.

Though the Eco Center, as it’s being called, is still under construction, the camps have already started at neighboring Gulf State Park, featuring programs like biking, kayaking, beach restoration projects, outdoor cooking, nature and ecology, arts and crafts and organic gardening.

The curriculum is being developed by Eco Center executive director Travis Langen and the Ocean Futures Society, which is run by Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of famed oceanographer Jacques Cousteau.

Langen previously worked for Cousteau’s group in its Ambassadors of the Environment program, which runs environmental education programs in Hawaii, California, the Caribbean, the Maldives, Mexico, and now Gulf Shores.

Langen said the Center will help encourage visitors to take better care of the beaches.

“Gulf Shores is not going out of fashion anytime soon,” Langen said. “It’s getting busier and busier, growing, so how could we accommodate that growth and host an ever-increasing number of people with an ever-decreasing impact and footprint on the landscape?”

“If [visitors] can come in for a week as a tourist in Gulf Shores, then leave as ambassadors of the environment, the next time they come back they’re going to help us and become allies in our hope to really change the way a tourist behaves and acts in the destination.”

While the city of Gulf Shores is administering the grant funding to build the facility, a non-profit entity was created to run the camps in coordination with various government and non-profit groups in the area: Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Gulf State Park, tourism boards, Ambassadors of the Environment, and local chambers of commerce. The city of Gulf Shores signed an eight-year agreement with the non-profit Center for Ecotourism to run the camp programs.

“It has been a big challenge, but the rewards are incredible once you can get basically a whole region dialed in to all share a similar narrative about sustainability about protecting the environment,” Langen said.

The new building, expected to be completed this fall, will feature a farm and garden complex, art center, habitat restoration demonstrations, bicycle hub, wetland lab, event space, and challenge course. The campus will be located just north of Gulf State Park and Lake Shelby, next to Gulf Shores High School, and will attempt to earn LEED Gold certification for sustainability.

The center won’t have overnight accommodations — at least not yet — but the adjoining Gulf State Park facilities can host school groups or other campers.

Craft said that hopefully the camp will grow into an amenity that will attract new visitors to the area, and bolster the city’s reputation as an ecotourism destination.

“We’re tourism and that’s who we are, that’s how we pay the bills, but that’s not what we are,” Craft said. “We’re focused on being responsible people and creating a quality of life that is the best we can make it for everybody that lives here.”

For the complete article please see https://www.al.com/news/2024/04/space-camp-for-the-beach-gulf-shores-launches-gulf-camp-for-environmental-education-ecotourism.html

Holt Street Baptist Church Museum

HISTORY: The Birth of the Modern Civil Rights Movement in America

The arrest of Rosa Parks on December 1, 1955, for her refusal to yield her seat on a Montgomery public transit bus to a white man, in defiance of local segregation laws, provided the impetus for change in the city and the nation. Organizations such as the Women’s Political Council, the NAACP, and ultimately the Montgomery Improvement Association mobilized to use Parks’ arrest as an opportunity to challenge Montgomery’s unjust segregation laws.

The day after Parks’ arrest, approximately 50 men met at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and planned a one-day bus boycott for the following Monday, December 5. They also arranged for a citywide meeting to be held that same evening to determine future action. The Rev. A.W. Wilson, pastor of Holt Street Baptist Church, offered his church as the site for the mass meeting. Meanwhile, more than a dozen men convened at Mount Zion A.M.E. Zion Church on the afternoon of December 5 and formed the Montgomery Improvement Association, appointing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as its president.

Following a day of virtually empty buses rolling through the streets of Montgomery, an estimated 5,000 people gathered at Holt Street Baptist Church, overflowing into the streets, parking lots, and surrounding area. From this meeting, one of the most successful boycotts in history was launched, directed for its duration by Dr. King. Thus, the modern Civil Rights Movement was born.

The organizational strategy of the Montgomery Bus Boycott provided a model for civil rights activism throughout the country for the next two decades. Black Montgomerians, through courage, dignity, and nonviolent action, helped effect societal change and ensure freedom and justice for all.

LEGACY

The Holt Street Baptist Church Historical Society aims to preserve the history of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the movement it launched through the creation and maintenance of a museum to be housed in the church where thousands gathered in support of the boycott. The museum will serve as a repository of historical materials on the boycott and Holt Street Baptist Church and as an information center with small exhibitions on the Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery and Alabama. It is the society’s goal, through this educational, cultural, and research center, to sustain the rich heritage and history of Holt Street Baptist Church, the movement in Montgomery and Alabama, and the church’s role in it.

The society seeks to promote understanding of the role of the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the struggle to gain civil rights for people of color in this country and to augment their participation in the democratic process and the free enterprise system.

Holt Street Baptist Church Museum – US Civil Rights Trail

Tourism Exchange

In August of 2023,  the Alabama Tourism Department announced we have joined with regional and national tourism organizations to allow Alabama tourism suppliers to place their inventory on the Tourism Exchange USA marketplace for distribution.

Currently Alabama tourism businesses, attractions, outfitters and tour guides are working to place their product on Tourism Exchange USA. This will allow for real-time sales of those products to a network of distributors worldwide who have also joined the B2B marketplace.

A couple of those Alabama suppliers are now in the final stages of being listed with many more coming soon.

Final stages to listed on Tourism Exchange USA:

  • Muscle Shoals Sound Studio
  • Alabama Music Hall of Fame
  • Freedom Line Tours

Anticipated to begin the process soon:

  • Explore The South Alabama Birding Tour for April 2024
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Montgomery
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Montgomery/Selma/Tuskegee
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Birmingham
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Family Fun Birmingham
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Florence/Muscle Shoals
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for the Huntsville Area
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Mobile area
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Mobile
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Anniston & East Central Alabama
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for East Central Alabama
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for East Central Alabama Family Fun
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Auburn/Opelika & Alexander City
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Dothan-Eufaula
  • All-in-One Alabama Multi-Attraction Ticket for Tuscaloosa

We encourage companies that wish to connect to suppliers of Alabama Tourism product to join the Tourism Exchange USA marketplace by going to this link https://tourismexchangeusa.com/get-connected/

 

WHITEWATER RAFTING in Montgomery, Alabama

Montgomery Whitewater’s massive, recirculating river system is divided into two channels. Our Creek and Competition Channels include class II-IV whitewater activities.

Perfect for beginners to intermediate paddlers and rafters, the channels mimic a natural river. The 2,200-foot-long Creek Channel is designed for a Class II whitewater experience and is an excellent introduction to whitewater. A step up from the Creek Channel, the 1,600-foot-long Competition Channel is an incredible playground for those with more advanced skills and is ideal for even the novice rafter looking to take on bigger rapids. Both channels intersect in the lower pond to the takeout or back up the conveyor belt for another run!

Five day U.S. Civil Rights Itinerary – Circle tour of top sites

To force change in the United States of America, many took to the streets in the 1960s in deliberate, non-violent confrontations to demand social justice. Montgomery, Birmingham and Selma, among others, were anvils on which civil rights victories were hammered.

Historic events transformed ordinary citizens like Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., Fred Shuttlesworth, Fred Gray and others into legends.  Churches were protests were planned are today recognized.

This circle tour takes you on a journey where thousands risked their lives to reshape America. Their bravery and courage inspired the world.

Download this 5 day circle itinerary that starts and ends in Atlanta and includes Anniston, Birmingham, Selma Montgomery and Tuskegee.

 

List of guides, transportation companies and other services in Alabama

To help contact tour companies with the resources they need, the Alabama Tourism Department has a searchable database of guides and transportation companies.

Click here and search by city and type of service needed; such as tour guide, tour operator, receptive operator, charter company or motorcoach company.  All information, including classification of type of company is provided by the entity.

To view all of a type in Alabama, leave the city box blank

Education Destinations

The Alabama Tourism Department has gathered a list of important adult and student educational destinations for SYTA and other group tour companies.

From U.S. Civil Rights, STEAM, and environmental programs at our beach. What happen in Alabama changed the world and continues to do so today.

For more information, contact Shawna Faniel, Domestic Sales Manager, Alabama Tourism Department, shawna.faniel@tourism.alabama.gov.

Alabama’s Best Rooms with a View

If you like looking out  from your balcony and seeing a scenic view while spending the night, then check out the series of stories that AL.com published on their website in August of 2013.

Alabama’s Best Rooms With a View: Nautical and nice in Point Clear

Alabama’s Best Rooms With a View: Lake Martin and leopard spots

Alabama’s Best Rooms With a View: Go jump in a lake, Guntersville that is

Alabama’s best Rooms With a View; Top o’ the mountain in Mentone

Group Travel News

Freedom Monument Sculpture Park Now Open!

Bryan Stevenson likes to say we are all more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. He reminds juries of that when defending his clients against death sentences. Perhaps that same grace should extend to nations. Stevenson is quick to add, however, an action’s full damage must be understood before attempts at moving on are […]

Student Groups Will Love This!

Space Camp for the beach? Gulf Shores launches Gulf Camp for environmental education, ecotourism From the article by Dennis Pillion on AL.com Gulf Shores has spent decades building its reputation as a premiere vacation destination. Now, the city on Alabama’s Gulf Coast is looking to become a leader in environmental education and programming that will bring […]