Travelers spent $90 million and were responsible for 1,104 jobs last year in DeKalb County, according to a report conducted for the Alabama Tourism Department by Montgomery economist Dr. Keivan Deravi. That figure represents a 4.6% increase in traveler spending from the prior year on hotels, restaurants, shopping and transportation.

The Alabama travel industry grew by more than $1 billion in 2018 to a record of $15.5 billion in expenditures, and increased jobs by 11,984 to some 198,890 employees.

Alabama ranks as the 13th largest tourism economy in the United States, including the District of Columbia. People from all around the world are discovering the scenic diversity of Alabama from the Gulf Coast and coastal plains in the south to the mountains and lakes in the North.

Here in DeKalb County we are a leisure tourism economy. People come here to relax, witness the beauty of our mountains and visit our 30,000 plus acres of public lands for outdoor activities. Having an interstate, two state parks and a National Preserve are gold mines to our local economy. Just think about the 90 million dollars spent by tourists, just in our county. In order for their dollars to be counted they have to spend the night and pay lodging tax. It is from the lodging tax that we capture a visitor’s average daily spend which includes their lodging cost, food, attractions, gas, retail shopping and entertainment. A family of four visiting DeKalb County spends nearly $475.00 a day on the above listed items.

DeKalb County would have a very different economy without our visitor spending.

We are proud of our success in attracting our visitors and we have an outstanding record for retention. Once our visitors come, they will begin coming back on a regular basis, so much so that DeKalb runs second in return visitors next to the gulf beaches.

It is our desire to keep growing and with that we hope for new hotels, campgrounds and other lodging formats...

In addition, and very important to us, is you. We are well known for treating our visitors in a very helpful and welcoming way. True southern hospitality and it makes all the difference in our rate of return to our destination.

A special thanks to each of you for your support in the tourism industry here in DeKalb.

— John Dersham is president and CEO of DeKalb Tourism.

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