MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The numbers are in and Montgomery is seeing major growth when it come to tourism with travel expenditures near $1 billion.
The Equal Justice Initiative’s Memorial and Museum is one of he big reasons so many people are visiting the Capital City. Since its opening in April of last year, it has brought 400,000 more visitors to Montgomery.
Wanda Williams and her husband, along with their close friends, made the trip from Kansas City to Montgomery at the recommendation of other friends.
"They were telling us all about everything here and we got so excited so we knew last year we were planning to visit,” said Williams.
This group is just one of thousands stopping by the Capital City to tour the EJI Memorial and Museum along with other attractions.
"Without a doubt we are seeing major increases in our rooms night booked and the number of people coming to Montgomery to see why we are such a special place,” said Meg Lewis with the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce.
Lewis says this year the city saw a 15.5 percent increase in traveler spending.
“That is close to $1 billion that travelers spent in Montgomery County. That is the largest increase any major metro in Alabama has known to have made in a year,” said Lewis.
A recent article in the New York Times highlighted EJI’s role in revitalizing Montgomery.
"The rest of the world is taking note that this is a place where people want to invest, because so many people are coming here,” said Lewis.
With the increase in tourism the growth is evident across the area.
"We are seeing a boom in hotels, attractions are growing and adding what they offer, and more restaurants are opening,” said Lewis.
And for the first time visitors it seems that Montgomery is making a lasting impression.
"We have been grateful to experience their hospitality,” said Johnny Kidd.
Lewis points out the Chamber is committed to putting the message out to tell people that Montgomery is not only the place for a vacation, but to start a business and live.
Tourism is a major employer in Montgomery. There are close to 14,000 jobs that come directly or indirectly from the tourism industry.