MONTGOMERY – Even as the state and nation experienced tough economic challenges, Alabama’s tourism and travel industry grew by three percent in 2008, according to a report released today by Governor Bob Riley.
The report shows more than 22 million people visited Alabama last year and spent nearly $9.6 billion in the state.
Those visitors also paid $702 million in state and local lodging and sales taxes.
The top five counties with the largest travel-related expenditures are: Baldwin County with almost $2.3 billion in travel-related spending, Jefferson County was second with more than $1.5 billion, Madison County was third at $991 million, Mobile County ranked fourth with more than $944 million and Montgomery County was fifth with nearly $558 million.
These counties were also the most visited in the state in 2008 and account for 63 percent of the total number of visitors.
“Alabama has always been a family-friendly destination and that has helped us attract a growing number of visitors. Whether its families looking for an affordable vacation or convention planners seeking a good deal, Alabama continues to be a value destination,” said Governor Riley. “The numbers for 2008 bring good economic news for Alabama. The dollars spent on tourism create jobs, grow local economies and generate needed tax revenues.”
"The three percent increase in 2008 is good news, especially coming off a banner year in 2007 in which we saw a 10 percent increase. Over the 10 year period from 1998 to 2008, travel spending in Alabama has increased 77 percent,” said State Tourism Director Lee Sentell.
The industries most impacted by tourism spending include lodging, restaurants, general retail, entertainment, public transportation and auto transportation.
The largest single travel expenditure was on food and drinks which accounted for 27 percent of all travel and tourism spending in the state.
Public transportation was the next largest expenditure accounting for 26 percent, followed by auto transportation at 15 percent, lodging at 13 percent, entertainment and general retail each accounted for 10 percent of travel expenditures.
For a county-by-county breakdown of travel-related expenditures and employment figures see the complete 2008 Economic Impact Report at www.alabama.travel in the “Quick Links” section.