• 61°
Hartselle Enquirer

Visitors welcome

By Staff
Tourism dollars are a sought-after commodity
Leada Gore, Hartselle Enquirer
More and more people are stopping in Morgan County during their travels, bringing with them money for the communities they visit and jobs for those in the tourism industry.
Figures released last week by the Decatur/Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau show visitors to Morgan County added more than $140 million to the local economy last year. Those figures are an 11 percent increase from 2003.
"Tourism and travel continued to be a vital part of the economic health of Decatur and Morgan County," said Pam Swanner, executive director of the Decatur/Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It provides employment for our residents, expands retail sales, provides additional money for our tax base and improves the local quality of life by creating more leisure-time and cultural activities for our residents."
Among the attractions touted by the CVB are Hartselle's antique stores and historic downtown, Point Mallard Park and the Joe Wheeler National Wildlife Refuge.
Hartselle doesn't rely on the CVB alone, however, to attract visitors. Hartselle Area Chamber of Commerce funds interstate billboards touting the city's offerings and sends information packets to those wanting to know more about the area.
It's all done to bring those dollars here.
According to a study conducted by the Center for Business and Economic Development at Auburn University Montgomery, more than 2,676 Morgan County residents found work in the tourism and travel-related fields last year. This is a 10 percent increase above the previous year's figures and gives Morgan County a 11th place statewide ranking in the number of tourism and travel jobs. Those jobs include things such as those working at lodging facilities, restaurants, retail stores, entertainment and transportation fields. Most tourism dollars – some 28 percent – went to restaurants. Other spending areas included auto transportation (22 percent); public transportation (16 percent); lodging facilities (13 percent); and entertainment and general retail (10 percent each).
It's those figures that makes investing in tourism a good bet, Swanner said.
"The travel and tourism industry is one of the state's top industries, producing around $25-to-$1 return on funds invested in promotion and development," she said.
Lodging taxes collected in Morgan County last year totaled some $707,467, an 11 percent increase above 2003. The state averaged a 10 percent overall increase in lodging taxes.
Hartselle levies a 5 percent lodging tax at its hotels and motels.
"Loding taxes are used a thermometer of the tourism and travel industry because there is a direct correlation between hotel guests and expenditures by guests for fuel, food, gifts and retail purchases, entertaining and sight-seeing," Swanner said.
Morgan County's positive tourism news was echoed statewide. Alabama's tourism and travel industry grew by 8 percent last year, with more than 20.6 million people visiting the state in 2003.
Tourists paid some $548 million in state and local lodging taxes and sales taxes last year, according to state officials.

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Priceville students design art for SRO’s police car 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Scott Stadthagen confirmed to University of West Alabama Board of Trustees 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle plans five major paving projects for 2024 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Future walking trail dubbed ‘Hartselle Hart Walk’ promotes heart health, downtown exploration 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Chiropractor accused of poisoning wife asks judge to recuse himself 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle seniors get early acceptance into pharmacy school  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Farmers market to open Saturday for 2024 season

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Challenger Matthew Frost unseats longtime Morgan Commissioner Don Stisher

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Cheers to 50 years  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Scott Stadthagen confirmed to University of West Alabama Board of Trustees 

Editor's picks

Hartselle graduate creates product for amputees 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Tigers roar in Athens soccer win

Danville

Local family raises Autism awareness through dirt racing  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Three Hartselle students named National Merit finalists  

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Morgan chief deputy graduates from FBI National Academy

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle students collect food for good cause 

Falkville

Falkville to hold town-wide yard sale next month

At a Glance

Danville man dies after vehicle leaves Hudson Memorial Bridge 

Editor's picks

Clif Knight, former Hartselle mayor, Enquirer writer, dies at 88

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Hartselle Utilities reminds community April is safe digging month 

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Teen powerhouse invited to compete in international strongman event

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Azaleas: An Alabama beauty 

Decatur

Master Gardeners plant sale returns in April

FRONT PAGE FEATURED

Morgan leaders honored at annual banquet

x