Governor: More Than 22 Million Travelers Visited Alabama in 2008

Although the state and nation faced difficult economic circumstances last year, Alabama's travel and tourism industry grew by 3 percent in 2008, according to a report released recently by Alabama Gov. Bob Riley.

The report, a study of the economic impact of travel and tourism in the Yellowhammer State, showed that more than 22 million people visited Alabama last year, spending nearly $9.6 billion and generating $702 million in state and local tax revenue.

"Alabama has always been a family-friendly destination and that has helped us attract a growing number of visitors," Gov. Riley said in a statement. "Whether it's families looking for an affordable vacation or convention planners seeking a good deal, Alabama continues to be a value destination."

According to State Tourism Director Lee Sentell, Alabama has seen travel spending increase there by 77 percent during the 10-year period from 1998 to 2008.

"The numbers for 2008 bring good economic news for Alabama," Gov. Riley continued. "The dollars spent on tourism create jobs, grow local economies and generate needed tax revenues."

According to the governor's report, the top five counties for Alabama travel were Baldwin County, with almost $2.3 billion in travel-related spending; Jefferson County, with over $1.5 billion; Madison County, with $991 million; Mobile County, with over $944 billion; and Montgomery County, with nearly $558 million.

The largest expenditures by Alabama travelers, meanwhile, were food and beverage, which accounted for 27 percent of all travel and tourism spending in the state, followed by public transportation (26 percent), auto transportation (15 percent), lodging (13 percent), entertainment (10 percent) and general retail (10 percent).

For more information, including a county-by-county breakdown of travel-related expenditures and employment in Alabama, visit www.alabama.travel.