2020 was a very different and very challenging year for most of us. If you or your family was infected with Covid-19 or had job loss because of it, it made the year especially hard. I wish each of you many blessings and prayers for improvement this year.

It appears we have at least a few more months or perhaps more before enough people are vaccinated to begin our downward trend on the COVID numbers which seem out of control now and most likely still get worse as Christmas travel and family gathering lead to a spread of more cases.

Our tourism industry has suffered its largest loss nationwide and worldwide than ever before. We have been an industry that has had solid growth since after World War II when most American companies began giving official vacation time to their employees. This was the beginning of travel as we know it today and growth in the industry with the exception of 9-11 and the great recession has had solid growth in most places each year. The advent of the interstate highway system in the 50s and 60s spawned an incredible transportation system we have now that has allowed everyone to make good travel time linking all of our major markets together with easy travel access.

We look forward to a good year 2021. Our tourism numbers have been remarkable since May due to our emphasis on outdoor activities, social distancing and vacationing in less populated markets. Our cabin rentals and campgrounds had a banner year in 2020. Both DeSoto S.P. and Little River Canyon N.P. reported record numbers last year.

Overall the tourism numbers have been down significantly nationwide and worldwide due to loss of air travel, conventions, conferences and business and government travel which all came to a stand still for nearly all of 2020. In Alabama, the hotel business in our large cities has greatly suffered.

I think our industry will rebound quite well once Covid-19 has begun to clear from our population.

— John Dersham is the president and CEO of DeKalb Tourism.

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