The latest Dothan tourism statistics show good news for the Wiregrass.
Dothan is beating the odds in terms of tourism.
Despite the oil spill and downed economy...visitors continue to flow into the circle city.
“We are actually up about 24 percent from last year…we had been down about 8 percent going into the spring. The numbers have jumped up mainly because you can't take the right away from American’s to have their annual family vacation," said Bob Hendrix, executive director of the Dothan Area Convention and Visitors Bureau.
A few factors contribute to the higher than usual tourism stats...The first being, believe it or not, the oil spill.
“People who would have normally gone to the affected area are now going to the Panama City area. We usually do have them we just have more of them this year and then also we forget that half of Atlanta goes to the beach through Dothan,” said Hendrix.
Another big draw to Dothan is the annual amateur sporting events like the Future Masters.
“Dothan is set up a little different than traditional destination in that people are taking their family vacations now through their children’s sports. And because of places like Westgate Park and Eastgate...Dothan is very well set up to handle the amateur sports scene,” said Hendrix.
Low gas prices are another reason tourists make pit stops in Dothan.
“A lot of people fill up before they get to Florida or coming out of Florida because we have lower gasoline tax which translates into about 8-12 cents difference...So we get a lot of people who wait to fill up in the Dothan area,” said Hendrix.
Dothan tourism provides about 2800 jobs to the area.
Hendrix says its big business.
“A lot of people don't realize but when visitors come to our city that's money they just drop off in the Dothan area if we’re nice to them. And if we show a good place to eat, stay the night...they're more than welcome to spend their money right there in the Dothan area,” said Hendrix.
Hendrix predicts tourism numbers will stay high through the rest of the summer as long as Panama City beach stays open.