DECATUR – Along with other industries, tourism was hard hit by the pandemic.
However, it is seeing a rebound as people hit the roads, mountains, lakes and beaches around the state.
In North Alabama, alone, last year, travelers spent more than $4.3 billion, according to a report released today by the Alabama Tourism Department. The number represents a 15.6% increase over 2021.
The “2022 Alabama Tourism Economic Report” used a model by Dr. Keivan Deravi, an economist in the School of Business at Auburn University in Montgomery.
The North Alabama region includes Blount, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan and Winston counties.
The study was to estimate the economic impact of the travel and tourism industry in Alabama for 2022. It also includes information on the number of jobs attributed to tourism, spending and revenue figures and the most visited counties.
“The North Alabama tourism and travel industry continues to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association President and CEO Tami Reist. “The swift recovery is due greatly to our industry leaders in the region who realized how to shift and navigate a fluid situation and to the front-line workers who remained dedicated to providing a first-class experience for all our visitors.
“We continue to remain optimistic and believe we will see even more growth in 2023.”
Deravi’s model analyzes tax revenue collected by the state to provide the annual travel economic impact study.
In 2022, travel-related total expenditures in the North Alabama region reached more than $4.3 billion, up from $3.7 billion in 2021.
Travel-related earnings showed a 9% increase from $1.1 billion in 2021 to $1.2 billion in 2022, and 46,942 individuals were employed directly and indirectly in the North Alabama tourism industry, a 6.5% increase over 2021.
Statewide, travelers spent more than $22.4 billion in 2022, an increase of 13.8% over 2021 spending. For every $1 in Alabama’s travel-related expenditures, the state retains 33 cents.
In 2022, $1.3 billion of state and local tax revenue was generated by travel and tourism activities. Without those taxes, each household in Alabama would have had to pay $685 in additional taxes to maintain current service levels.
Every $139,041 of expenditures in the travel industry creates one direct job in Alabama. Economists estimate that for every two direct jobs created, the Alabama economy indirectly creates one additional job.