The innovative “Trails” focused tourism development program by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association is having a tremendous positive economic impact on North Alabama.
The North Alabama Tourism and Travel industry reached a new record high in 2017 with visitors spending more than $2.6 billion in the 16-counties of the region last year. In a study released by the Alabama Travel Department, North Alabama reported a 7% growth in tourism and travel in 2017 with $2,696,922,502 in total visitor expenditures, as compared to 2016’s figure of $2,513,601,257.
Travel-related earnings for North Alabama grew 4.4% from $807,438,394 in 2016 up to $842,586,614 in 2017. Travel-related employment also expanded by 5% with 33,116 area residents being employed in the industry (direct and indirect) in 2017, up from 31,554 in 2016.
Six North Alabama counties are included in the top 15 for total travel-related employment in the state: Madison with 16,465, Lauderdale with 2,849, Marshall with 2,698, Morgan with 2,287, Etowah with 1,804, and Cullman with 1,540.
Three North Alabama counties are also included in the top 15 counties with the largest total percentage employment growth in 2017: Franklin with a 15.2% increase up from 237 in 2016 to 273 in 2017, Winston up by 15% from 147 in 2016 to 169 in 2017, and Morgan up 10% up from 2,080 in 2016 to 2,287 in 2017.
Madison County was the fourth most visited county in the state with 3,157,712 visitors in 2017 (up from 3,071,984 in 2016). Some 2,194,610 of those travelers stayed in hotels and motels in Madison County (up from 2,135,029 in 2016).
The full report issued by the Alabama Tourism Bureau may be downloaded here.