Tourist Spending in Alabama Doubles in a Decade

Tourist Spending in Alabama Doubles in a Decade

The amount of dollars that tourists spent in Alabama in 2022 more than doubled to a record $22.4 billion last year compared to the $10.6 billion spent a decade ago in 2012, tourism officials say, with the current spending level trending for additional growth this year.

More than 28.6 million guests, up 400,000 from last year, enjoyed trips to the state, with 71.3 percent overnighting in Baldwin, Jefferson, Madison, Mobile or Montgomery counties, surveys showed.

An estimated 238,741 jobs were attributable to the tourism and hospitality industry last year, officials said. With every $139,041 in expenditures creating one new direct job, according to Huntsville’s Judy Ryals, chair of the state tourism advisory board.

The state’s eating and drinking establishments accounted for more than half of the jobs. The food industry created 53 percent of the positions, with overnight accommodations providing 20 percent, the study revealed. Entertainment provided 13 percent of jobs and general retail contributed 7 percent more. 

The state’s travel industry expenditures represent 8.6 percent of Alabama’s overall production in 2022, with the industry being responsible for generating the total impact earnings exceeding $7.4 billion, including $4.1 billion in direct earnings. The figures are from a study conducted for the Alabama Tourism Department to estimate the economic impact of the state’s travel and tourism industry. 


State tourism director Lee Sentell said Ryals generated records of her own, soon to step down as president of the Huntsville/Madison County hospitality industry after 45 years in her leadership role and chairing the state board for 25 years. She is the longest serving convention bureau president in the nation, he said, adding, “Judy has been a mentor to countless numbers of us in the state and national industry.”

During the 2020 COVID outbreak, the state tourism industry had the fifth lowest drop in the nation, down 20 percent, amongst the 50 states, with the highest drop being 45 percent. Alabama had a 47 percent increase in tourism in the following year of 2021, and a 13.8 percent increase in 2022. “Alabama has made a dramatic recovery in the past few years,” Sentell said.

2023 Economic Impact Spending By Tourists

The travel industry has a direct impact on the state’s total economy, records show. State law requires that 75 percent of the 4 percent state lodging tax paid by all hotel guests goes directly into the state General Fund that the Alabama Legislature spends for services to all residents. The $82,457,000 that tourists spent benefited all residents of the state, the director said. 

In recent years, the state tourism department has won top national and regional awards for its marketing campaigns from World Travel Market in London, United States Travel Association, National Council of State Tourism Directors, Travel Weekly magazine, the Southeast Tourism Society and the Southern Public Relations Federation. For more information on visiting Alabama, visit www.Alabama.Travel.