Tourism day to be celebrated at Lanett welcome center

Published 9:00 am Friday, May 3, 2024

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LANETT — For those on the west side of the Chattahoochee River who don’t mind entering Georgia just to go right back to Alabama, there’s going to be a special event at the Alabama Welcome Center they might want to check out next Thursday, May 9.

The annual Tourism Day will be taking place from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. EDT (9-2 Central).

With the south-bound entrance lane and north-bound exit lane at Exit 79 presently closed for construction, the only way to get to the welcome center from Alabama is to cross the river into Georgia, get off I-85 at Exit 2 in West Point and then get back on the Interstate and head south.

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Tourism Day is mostly for out-of-state tourists who are entering Alabama but local people are welcome to be there, too. The Welcome Center staff will be serving food just outside the center, there will be some live entertainment and booths will be set up where visitors can learn about interesting places to go, things to do, places to eat and spend the night in Alabama.

John Lott and daughter Dana Pike will be singing and the Whistle Stop Players will be playing memorable tunes on their dulcimers.

Tourism is big business in Alabama, and the state’s welcome centers are key locations to give that first good impression to those entering the state.

Tourists in Alabama spent $1 billion more in 2023 than in the previous record year, reaching a new record spending high of $23.5 billion. Alabama played host to more than 28.8 million guests in 2023. This was an increase of more than 200,000 people from 2022.

That record spending by tourists helped create an estimated 245,500 jobs. According to state officials, every $140,279 of expenditures in the travel industry creates one new direct job. The 2024 spending total was the fourth time in the past five years that tourist spending increased in Alabama.

The state’s travel industry expenditures represented 8.3 percent of the state’s overall production in 2023.

“Alabama continued its streak of remarkable success in the tourism and travel industry,” Gov. Kay Ivey said of the state’s new record year. “Across all corners of the state there was a notable increase in tourism-related benefits, demonstrating the industry’s capacity to thrive even amidst economic fluctuations.”

What sets Alabama apart from other states, said the governor, is a unique blend of natural wonders, cultural treasures and enriching experiences awaiting exploration. “From the scenic beauty of its landscapes to the richness of its cultural heritage,” she said, “Alabama offers visitors an array of unforgettable experiences that leave a lasting impression.”