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State economic impact report reveals 10% hike in tourism in North Alabama

DECATUR – In 2023, travelers spent more than $4.7 billion while visiting the 16 counties of the North Alabama region, representing a 10.1% increase over 2022, according to a report released last week by the Alabama Tourism Department.

The “2023 Alabama Tourism Economic Report,” used a model created by Dr. Keivan Deravi, an economist in the School of Business at Auburn University in Montgomery. The counties of the North Alabama region are Blount, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan and Winston.

In 2023, travel-related expenditures in the region was up from $4.3 billion in 2022. Travel-related earnings showed a 7.1% growth from $1.26 billion in 2022 to $1.35 billion in 2023, and 49,523 people were employed directly and indirectly in the tourism industry, a 5.5% increase over 2022.

“In 10 years, tourists’ expenditures in North Alabama have doubled, from $2.1 billion in 2013 to $4.7 billion in 2023,” said Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association President and CEO Tami Reist. “We continue to see our tourism industry grow as new hotels, RV parks and tiny home developments are popping up all across the region. These new developments will allow us to welcome even more visitors and more spending in the region and in turn, create more jobs, boost revenue for local businesses and encourage local infrastructure developments.

“I am extremely proud of our 16 counties and the collective efforts of our tourism partners – tourism bureaus, economic development offices and chambers of commerce – who continue the efforts to make sure that tourism is a vital economic driver to their respective counties.”

Based on the primary and secondary data, it is estimated that more than 28.8 million people visited the State of Alabama during 2023, and spent over $23.5 billion, representing an increase of 4.8% over 2022 spending.

For every $1 in Alabama’s travel-related expenditures, the state retains a total of 33 cents. In 2023, $1.4 billion of state and local tax revenues were generated by travel and tourism activities.

“Alabama continued its streak of remarkable success in the tourism and travel industry,” said Gov. Kay Ivey. “Across all corners of the state, there was a notable increase in tourism-related benefits, demonstrating the industry’s capacity to thrive even amidst economic fluctuations.”

The study was to estimate the economic impact of the travel and tourism industry in Alabama for 2023 and includes information on the number of jobs attributed to tourism, spending and revenue figures and the most visited counties. Deravi’s model analyzes tax revenues collected by the state to provide the annual travel economic impact study.

Deravi said the travel industry has a direct impact on the state’s total economy. State law requires 75% of the 4% state lodging tax paid by all hotel guests goes directly into the state General Fund.

The $86.4 million of the Legislature’s portion of the lodgings tax benefits all residents of the state, the economist said. Without those funds from tourism, each household in Alabama would have had to pay an additional $707 in taxes just to maintain current service levels.

For the complete report, visit tourism.alabama.gov/reports/.

For more information on things to see and do in North Alabama, visit www.northalabama.org.

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