Tourism numbers up for year
Leada Gore, Hartselle Enquirer
High gasoline prices don't seem to be slowing the flow of visitors to Morgan County.
Figures released last week by the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association show visitors to Morgan County accounted for some $148 million in revenues last year. That figure is a 5 percent increase from the previous year.
Much of the tourism money goes to Decatur, the county's largest city. However, smaller towns like Hartselle are increasing their marketing efforts, too, in an attempt to gain some of the tourism dollars.
"The tourism industry remains one of the most vital parts of the economic health of Decatur and Morgan County," said Decatur-Morgan County Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Pam Swanner. "The diversity of the tourism industry provides multiple benefits for our area, including providing employment for our residents, it expands our 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."
Some 2,761 Morgan County residents work in travel or tourism-related jobs, including those working at hotels, restaurants and entertainment facilities.
Tourism in Alabama was up, too. The state welcomed some 21.8 million tourists last year, accounting for $7.6 billion in revenues. The figure was up 3 percent from last year.