Alabama hopes to build back tourism in 2021

Updated: Jan. 2, 2021 at 5:52 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Director of the Alabama Tourism Department, Lee Sentell, says the state has lost billions of dollars just like other states for tourism in 2020.

COVID-19 impacted people’s travel in 2020 due to many attractions like museums closing their doors due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Sentell says the one thing that did benefit tourism in 2020 was Alabama beaches and campgrounds.

“People are looking for outdoor activities and Alabama is very strong in that department,” Sentell said.

Gunter Hill Park is a popular tourism destination for campers in the state, and Sentell hopes that 2021 will be successful in welcoming campers back to the park and other parks like it in the state.

Camper Willie Mullis says he’s looking forward to camping this year and believes it is a safe activity because it offers a lot of space.

“I rather be out here camping than going to Walmart or going out places and doing things where a lot of people are at out here,” Mullis said.

“Even though there is a lot of people camping you can notice there is plenty of distance apart.”

Sentell says his office will highlight and offer more outdoor activities for 2021 and says when people are ready to come, Alabama will be ready to receive them.

“Everything will be clean and make you comfortable when you get here so were not doing any advertising that doesn’t include the COVID message in our marketing,” Sentell said. “When people are ready to come, they’re going to feel comfortable when they come to Alabama.”

Alabama is the only southern state that generates its own revenue through its tourism department.

The office is funded through a 1% lodging tax on hotel and campgrounds.

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