When the world was a mess, Alabama showed plain common sense. Our tourists proved that.

Over the last two years, tourists and vacationers have flocked to Alabama to escape unnecessary restrictions and mandates. They also traveled here in record numbers because Alabama has something for everyone.

From our white sandy beaches on the Gulf Coast to the river valleys across the state to vibrant cultures and top-ranked cities, we remained open, welcoming and promoting normalcy.

Google searches, alone, proved Alabama was one of the county’s most desired getaways. More people searched for information about our state than they did other tourist hot spots, like California, Hawaii and New York. Alabama travel information jumped from 30th place to fourth among the 50 states.

Other states and the national tourism industry suffered a drop of 45%. But here in Alabama, we did not just recover; we thrived. In 2021, 26% more tourists vacationed in Alabama and spent a record amount of almost $20 billion.

It’s no secret that economic growth is a priority of mine, and that includes expanding Alabama tourism. During my tenure, we have seen the tourism industry almost double in revenue.  Revenues went from $10.7 billion in 2012 to $19.7 billion in 2021. Now, this growth could be attributed to new tourism attractions and good advertisement, or the truth of the matter: Alabama has it going on.

Even more importantly, tourists create good-paying jobs. Tourism helped fund 227,334 jobs last year. With that many jobs and $6.8 billion in payroll, the Alabama tourism industry is, no doubt, important to the overall health of Alabama’s economy.

It does not stop here.

Alabamians just voted to provide more funding for state parks and public historical locations. This constitutional amendment will help improve, renovate, construct and maintain our 22 state parks which encompass 48,000 acres of endless opportunities to fish, camp, canoe, hike and enjoy the great outdoors.

We are keeping Alabama the beautiful, beautiful.

Tourism down on the Gulf Coast is a money-making machine and the rest of Alabama isn’t far behind. You can retrace the steps of the Civil Rights Movement, discover outer space in Huntsville at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, hike the start of the Appalachian range at Pinhoti Trail or spend a weekend on the lake at one of my favorite Alabama destinations, Lake Jordan.

Whether you are a first-time tourist, a frequent visitor or a local, I invite you and your family to explore all that Alabama has to offer this summer.

Kay Ivey, from Camden, is the 54th governor of Alabama, having served in that position since 2017. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819News.com.