ORANGE BEACH — The Alabama Tourism Department is celebrating the economic impact of the state’s travel and tourism industry. New numbers show tourism dollars have more than doubled in Sweet Home Alabama over the past decade.

Tourists spent $10.6 billion in 2012 and $22.4 billion in 2022.

An estimated 28.6 million people travel to the state each year, and the projections for 2023 show that the number could be exceeded this year. Most tourists stay overnight in Baldwin, Jefferson, Madison, Mobile or Montgomery Counties.

State tourism director Lee Sentell said COVID impacted tourism the most over the past 10 years, but since numbers continue to increase.

“Alabama has made a dramatic recovery in the past few years,” Sentell said.

During COVID lockdowns, many people flocked to Alabama’s beautiful Orange Beach. The city did not shut down its beaches, and Mayor Tony Kennon said people were able to escape the pandemic in paradise.

“Because we didn’t shut our beaches down to any degree during COVID, it opened us up to a lot of potential new visitors,” said Kennon. “And once they discovered us, they kept coming back. So, we’re blessed in that respect."

According to Kennon, the increase in tourists has led to challenges, such as traffic woes and infrastructure issues. However, he said the city is working through those issues as much as possible.

He added that citizens of Orange Beach are afforded many amenities thanks to tourists.

Along with tourists spending money in the state, the tourism and hospitality industry supported an estimated 238,741 jobs. More than half of those were in restaurants and bars.

For more information on visiting Alabama, visit www.Alabama.Travel.

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