Alabama coast bounces back

Alabama’s Gulf Shores, Orange Beach and Fort Morgan communities had a record-setting summer, bringing in $154 million in lodging revenue, an 18 percent increase over 2007, previously the best summer on record. State and local officials are attributing the success to smart management of marketing funds provided by BP after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism and the Alabama Tourism Department worked together to determine the most effective use of the marketing dollars to boost tourism to the region. “The strength of this team—along with the support of the area’s entire community who also joined forces—created a synergistic effect that allowed our message to reach many audiences through all mediums,” said Herb Malone, president/CEO of the Gulf Shores tourism bureau.

“What our tourism community accomplished is almost unfathomable, especially considering the national economy,” Malone said. “Last summer, we saw a 47 percent decrease in lodging revenue. Thanks to this partnership, the area not only made up for this decrease to return to pre-spill levels but then continued the momentum to break the summer record of our benchmark year.”

The efforts translated to all areas of the local tourism community, from meetings and hotels to attractions and restaurants. Johnny Fisher, general manager of the popular local LuLu’s restaurant at Homeport Marina, experienced the postive results firsthand: “The combined efforts of Gulf Shores Orange Beach Tourism, Alabama Tourism and the local municipalities have helped LuLu’s to our best year ever, surpassing our 2009 benchmark year by almost 15 percent.”

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