MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - One million more people visited Alabama in 2018 than ever before, according to Gov. Kay Ivey.
Ivey announced the increased number of tourists on Monday. Alabama Tourism Department economist Dr. Keivan Deravi produced the state’s annual economic impact report, which said tourists spent $15.5 billion in the state, a total $1.2 billion higher than in 2017.
The more than 27.7 million visitors in 2018 paid $954 million in state and local taxes, according to Ivey, and she said that saved the average Alabama family $507 in taxes. About $76 million was generated in state lodgings taxes, 75 percent of which benefits the State General Fund.
Ivey said the tourism department grew by 8.5 percent in 2018. The travel industry represents 7.3 percent of Alabama’s Gross Domestic Product.
“We are proud that this past year showed the largest growth in visitors and expenditures in the state’s history,” said State Tourism Director Lee Sentell.
The annual report shows Montgomery County expenditures jumped by more than 15 percent, and Sentell credits the opening of the Equal Justice Initiative memorial and museum.