MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WIAT) — This Memorial Day weekend will be the first big holiday since COVID-19 restrictions eased up in Alabama.
That also means a chance for big tourism dollars.
“There’s a lot of pent-up demand. People are looking to have a lot of long and short vacations this summer. The average American will take about 1.7 vacations during the summer period, so that means a lot of people are taking two vacations,” said Grey Brennan, deputy director at the Alabama Department of Tourism.
Brennan said that each year, tourism accounts for $13 billion in economic impact for Alabama. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in-state and out-of-state tourists were eager to get outside.
“Our state parks and our beaches had great numbers last year, we think they will continue to have fantastic numbers this year,” Brennan said.
Another reason more tourists are already pouring into the state, is to visit the small Elmore County town of Wetumpka, which was recently featured on HGTV’s new show, “Hometown Takeover.”
Shellie Whitfield, director of the Wetumpka Chamber of Commerce, said people from all over the country have been flocking to the town. And that in turn, helps the entire state.
“It has this ripple effect. Not just for Wetumpka but for all the towns in and around us and for Alabama as a whole. We hope that Alabama is a tourist destination,” Whitfield said.
Grey Bannon agrees.
“All the hotels, the Airbnb’s, the condos and you add in all the restaurants the people eat at… add all that money up, it’s a boost for Alabama,” Brennan said.