Kentucky leads the way in out of state tourist numbers
Alabama’s tourism income rose from $19.7 billion in 2021 to $22.4 billion in 2022, according to information recently presented at the Alabama Governor’s Conference on Tourism. Visits to Alabama’s welcome center were also up 1.6 million.
According to statistics from The National Tourism Industry, Kentucky has a higher percentage of tourists visiting Alabama than any other state and the highest percentage of international visitors are from the United Kingdom. Visitors spending from that market is expected to reach $100 million by 2026.
The increase marked a significant increase from the $13.4 billion tourists spent during 2020 when the world was dealing with the Covid pandemic. But even in that year Alabama tourism income decreased by 20 percent while nationwide, the industry was down 45 percent.
“Certainly we had no warning that Covid was comin, but we had started a three-year outdoor marketing campaign in January before Covid hit. So, we were already in the marketplace showcasing our state parks and beaches,’’ said Lee Sentell, Alabama Tourism Director. “People from the Midwest, who had never been to Alabama before, came in record numbers.”
Sentell said he expects 2023 to be another record year.
“I think people learned a lot about Alabama during Covid,’’ he said. “I think they’re coming back. I’m the only person in the state that likes to be on I-65 on weekends, because I love to look at car tags and see where people are coming from.”