The North Alabama tourism and travel industry achieved a record $3.2 billion economic impact on the region in 2019 according to a study released recently by the Alabama Tourism Department. The figure of $3,209,283,833 represents an 7.8% growth over 2018’s $2,926,299,074.
In another key segment, the state study showed some 37,644 residents in the region are employed directly and indirectly in the tourism industry, a 7.6% rise over 2018’s 35,084 employment figure.
These jobs were created in direct response to services demanded by travelers in the state. The biggest beneficiaries of travel-related employment were eating and drinking establishments. This sector accounted for 53 percent of all the travel-related jobs created in the state in 2019. Other industries that benefited strongly were lodging facilities and entertainment.
A breakdown of percentage of employment by segment shows:
•13% Lodging Facilities
• 27% Eating and Drinking Establishments
• 10% General Retail
• 9% Entertainment
• 15% Public Transportation
• 26% Auto Transportation
The job creation process, however, does not end with direct employment. Each job created by travel provided income for those employed in the above subsectors of the economy. This income generated expenditures, which in turn, created additional demand for goods and services and thus, more jobs in the region.
Travel related earnings in North Alabama was $5,746,377,400, up 4.1% over 2018.
“Last year was a tremendous year for the North Alabama tourism industry and marked seven straight years of dramatic growth,” said Tami Reist, AMLA President and CEO. “We are thankful for the hard work and support of communities across the region.
“This year, the coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency is having an unprecedented impact on the travel industry and the entire economy. We recognize the importance of restoring the industry to previous levels as a means of providing jobs for our residents, income for our business owners, and an influx of taxes for area governments. Now more than ever, the travel and tourism community must come together, support each other and remind our country that even through the most difficult times, the Spirit of Travel cannot be broken,” she said.
According to Lee Sentell, Director of the Alabama Tourism Department:
• Travelers are estimated to have spent $16.8 billion in Alabama in 2019. This represents an increase of 7.8 percent as compared to 2018 spending.
• Based on the primary and secondary data, it is estimated that more than 28.7 million people visited the State of Alabama during 2019.
• In 2019, more than $1 billion of state and local tax revenues were generated by travel and tourism activities. Without those taxes, each household in Alabama would have had to pay $537 in additional taxes to maintain current service levels.
• Travel industry expenditures represent 7.5 percent of Alabama’s Gross Domestic Product – overall production – in 2019.
• An estimated 208,623 jobs – 10.1 percent of non-agricultural employment in Alabama – were directly or indirectly attributable to the travel and tourism industry.
• The total impact of the travel and tourism industry on Alabama’s earnings in 2019 is estimated to be $5.7 billion.
• Every $119,237 of travel-related expenditures creates one direct job in Alabama.
• For every $1 in Alabama’s travel-related expenditures, the state retains a total of $0.34.
• The most visited counties in the state were Baldwin, Jefferson, Madison, Mobile, and Montgomery, accounting for 67 percent of the total number of visitors to the state.
• Overall, $61,634,711 of Alabama’s 4% state lodging tax goes to the state’s General Fund.
• The state’s tourists’ expenditures have grown by 85 percent in the decade since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, setting records during each of the succeeding nine years.