Published on : Tuesday, May 5, 2020
The tourism industry in Alabama has crippled due to the spreading of deadly coronavirus. The tourism industry has been in deep mess for the past six weeks as the COVID-19 pandemic has ravaged hospitality sector if the county.
The hotel occupancy rates, prior to the beaches reopening Friday, were below 10% in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. The hospitality related job losses, particularly among restaurant and bar workers, continue to rise, and sales and lodging taxes are sinking.
The annual tourism figures in Alabama, released showing just how strong the year 2019 was in Alabama.
According to the latest tourism data, historically released in April or May, Alabama has experienced record-breaking numbers in tourists visiting Alabama (28.7 million, up from 27.7 million in 2018) and in spending by tourists ($16.8 billion, up from $15.6 billion in 2018). Since the BP oil spill a decade ago, tourist expenditures in the state have grown by 85%. It is setting huge records during each of the past nine years.
The Gulf Coast region, consisting of Mobile and Baldwin counties, last year continued to see increases in tourism spending ($6.7 billion, up 8% from $6.2 billion in 2018). While, other regions like Huntsville, Birmingham and Montgomery all saw increases as well as visitors flocked to Alabama like never before.
Lee Sentell, the state’s tourism director said that the last year, the economy was good particularly in the South and Midwest, which is where our major amount of visitors comes from. Each year for the last three years, Alabama Tourism Dept. attracted an additional 1 million of vacationers to the state and what they are thinking that it indicates is that they have a strong and attractive tourism product and they are getting the message to our potential visitors and they are coming.
Sentell also said that despite the bleak picture drawn by the numbers from the six-week shutdown of Alabama’s beaches – which is the main and sole tourism driver for the state’s economy – he could see a rebound as the year progress.