On Friday, October 7th, Coastal Alabama Partnership held its quarterly Elected Officials Forum featuring the impact of tourism on our economy. Over 50 elected officials from Baldwin and Mobile counties gathered to hear from our tourism leaders and a special guest on the value of tourism to our coastal economy. Don Welsh, President and CEO of Destination Marketing Association International, joined us to discuss the role of a DMO (Destination Marketing Organization) and share national trends in tourism.
Mr. Welsh shared that $2.1 trillion are generated annually by domestic and international visitors in the United States. Tourism generates over $147 billion in tax revenue to local, state and federal governments and supports over 15 million jobs. With nearly 83,000 jobs in Alabama, tourism generates $8.9 billion in spending, $1.6 billion in payroll and $980.1 million in tax revenues.
Additionally, Mr. Welsh shared several trends in the destination marketing industry:
- Adapt to the New Marketplace – moving from broadcasting to engagement using technology to target consumers
- Build and Protect the Destination Brand – must create and deliver a uniquely completing brand at each point of the visitor experience
- Evolve the DMO Business Model – explore business-model alternatives to ensure sustainability of the DMO by expanding alliances and engaging with non-traditional stakeholders
Our local tourism leaders also addressed the crowd of elected leadership. Herb Malone, President & CEO of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, shared that Coastal Alabama contributes nearly 40% of the state’s total lodging tax, providing 4 times its share proportionately. Coastal Alabama welcomed over 9 million visitors in 2015 generating $4.9 billion in spending, $24.8 million in state tax revenue and supporting over 64,000 jobs.
Al Hutchinson, President & CEO of Visit Mobile, also shared the successes of Visit Coastal Alabama, a partnership of the eight destination marketing organizations in Baldwin and Mobile counties. Among their many accomplishments, this group has launched a new regional marketing campaign focused around a single-source website promoting all things to do and see around Coastal Alabama – www.visitcoastalalabama.org.
Overall, the day was a great success with knowledge shared, visions set and networking as a region to continue upon the success to grow tourism in our region. Coastal Alabama Partnership will continue to host Elected Official Forums in 2017; stay tuned for more exciting news to come.