The 2024 Spring Break season has arrived, and officials in lower Baldwin County are ready to welcome visitors for a family-friendly, safe vacation.

Beth Gendler, president and CEO of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, told 1819 News that this year's Spring Break crowd is expected to be similar to 2023's numbers, though it may be shorter.

"With Easter being so early, that is usually the deciding factor of what Spring Break will look like," Gendler said. "It will be compressed. March looks really, really good as far as occupancy."

Along with a compressed Spring Break season, Gendler said there are still a lot of winter visitors in town, so local businesses will likely benefit the entire month of March.

"And it also could be a case where winter visitors have family visit for Spring Break so they have time at the beach together this year," she added.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism works with local municipalities and the Baldwin County EMA to promote the "BEach Safe: Know before You Go" campaign. The purpose is to inform visitors of safety tips and to raise rip current awareness.

You can learn about those tips online. That includes details on how rip currents work and what to look for and information on the flag system.

Lifeguards are already back on the beach and Grant Brown, with the city of Gulf Shores, said Lamar Advertising is helping with billboards to spread the message. Airplanes will also tow messages with BEach Safe information. Literature is being distributed among rental properties and is being provided on children's menus at some local restaurants.

"It's a big effort that will never end," Brown said. "And that's always one of the things you've got to keep retraining the new guests as they arrive in the town. You get a whole new group every four or five, six days, it seems like. So, it's a revolving door."

Jessica Waters, with the Baldwin County EMA, said the agency is asking for the media and public help to spread the word outside the county.

"While we can see the difference the campaign is making, we know we need assistance outside our area to reach more of our visitors before they step foot in the sand," she said in a press release.

Another important campaign on Gulf beaches is the "Leave Only Footprints" initiative.

"Leave only footprints," Gendler reminded visitors. "First-time visitors need to know that at the end of the day, take all your tents and chairs with you or they will not be there the next day, so that we can protect wildlife."

The Gulf Shores City Council once again adopted a resolution banning alcohol on beaches from March 4 through April 28.

The Gulf Shores Police Department is also ensuring appropriate coverage on roadways and beach fronts.

"We've worked with Baldwin County Sheriff's Office For them to provide us additional officer resources in the beach area for Spring Break just because we know there's a lot of people that congregate in areas of the beach," said Brown.

As for a large, long-term road construction by ALDOT, Brown said it will continue throughout the tourist season. The work has caused congestion along the main highway leading to the beach.

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"Road construction is unfortunately ongoing and we're all just going to have to sort of have the pain for the ultimate gain at the end," Brown explained. "But yeah, it's going to be Highway 59 with no turning lane. We are making sure that people are careful and watching where they're going."

While the roadwork has impacted businesses in the area during the winter months, Brown said he hopes visitors during the warmer months will circle around and visit small businesses along Highway 59. He also said a project to provide a rear entrance for those businesses is in the works and getting closer to competition.

With Spring Break being the kickoff to the busy season for the beach, businesses will hire more employees to work through the summer, helping further boost the local economy.

Cities in lower Baldwin County towns welcome tourism and hope vacationers feel at home.

"We are a family-friendly destination," said Brown. "We're excited to have families coming back to the beaches. It's always good to see them in town. We want them to be safe and pack their patience when they come because they deserve to have an enjoyable time and safe time as long as they are here."

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