Happy New Year!
A new decade has arrived and I am looking forward to a continuing growth in tourism. 2019 was a great year, as tourism throughout our county continued to grow. We will not have our official 2019 numbers until April when the state revenue office delivers the tourism economic impact reports for all 67 Alabama Counties. In 2018, tourism spent just under 90 million dollars in DeKalb County. We are looking forward that number growing by several million dollars in 2019.
The tourism economic impact numbers only include people who have spent the night and paid lodging tax. Visitors who spend the day and leave do not count in our revenue stream, but they are critical to the overall sales tax collections county-wide.
This is the time of year DeKalb Tourism is busy planning for spring, summer and fall. January and February are our two slowest months for visitors; I wish that were not true, but due to the fact that most of our tourism is based on the outdoor environment and people tend to come mostly from mid March through mid November.
If Cloudmont Ski resort is open for skiing we will get good visitor crowds there, but in warmer winters like this one (thus far) they do not get as many days cold enough to make snow and keep it on the ground. It has to be 30 degrees or below for so many consecutive days for them to begin blowing snow.
It is one of our goals to create more winter business by finding ways to create more reasons to visit us in the winter. The Northeast Agri-Business Center helps our volume since they have some solid winter weekend activities that draw some out of town visitors.
This time of year allows us to concentrate on internal planning and participation on the planning committees for festivals and other events that will ultimately give us time to work on promotional activity that will be ready to deliver to the marketplace to tickle our potential out of town guests with a reminder and a reason to make us one of their weekend get-a-ways or a full vacation.
Despite the lower visitor numbers during the winter, our dollars spent on lodging are staying higher than in the depths of our great recession. The better economy and slightly lower gas prices have contributed to more people on the road and more business travelers spending the night.
In mid March as we begin to see the earth beginning to turn green and the days more sunny and warmer we start seeing more people at our parks and more people coming into our information center who are day tripping just to get out of winter hibernation and start moving around more for afternoons in the sun, hikes, sports and picnicking.
— John Dersham is president and CEO of DeKalb Tourism.