Take advantage of Alabama’s spring weather

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 28, 2006

As the weather grows warmer and the spring vacation season is upon us, I am reminded of the one of the great benefits of living in Alabama: access to all of our state’s wonderful attractions. The beautiful spring weather our state is known for makes it a great time to get out and experience all of the wonderful attractions that Alabama has to offer.

Disney World and our nation’s capital are some of the most popular tourist destinations, but Alabama offers a wide variety of attractions and events that everyone can enjoy. Our state is beginning to take advantage of all the resources it has been blessed with, and our tourism industry is growing. From the NASA Space and Rocket Centerin Huntsville, to the Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile, there are options in every area of our state that are perfect for family vacations.

Tourism is very important to Alabama. According to the Alabama Department of Tourism and Travel, over 20 million people visited Alabama last year, generating over $7.5 billion for the state and creating over 160,000 jobs.

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Tourism also provided $565 million in state and local tax revenue, which goes to fund our public schools.

By vacationing in-state, you can do your part to help to provide better schools and a brighter future for our children.

The beach is a top warm weather destination, and luckily, Alabama has some of the best around.

Of the $7.5 billion Alabama generates in tourism each year, $2 billion, or nearly 30 percent, is generated by travel related expenditures in Baldwin County.

The Alabama Gulf coast is one of our nation’s loveliest coastlines, and the most vital tourism entity that our state has. Fortunately, much of the coast escaped Hurricane Katrina with little to minor damages. In fact, all of the construction that is taking place on the coast is new construction, not rebuilding.

All of our beaches are open for business, and other attractions such as the U.S.S. Alabama in Mobile, and the Red Snapper World Championships in Orange Beach, are just a few reasons to get down to the Gulf coast.

Alabama also offers a wide variety of events for sports enthusiasts. For racing fans, I recommend “Speed Week,” a week in April dedicated to racing of all kinds.

Speed Week offers the AMA Superbike Championship Series at the Barber Racetrack in Birmingham, and the week culminates with the NASCAR race atTalladega.

Also, the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail is a series of world-renowned public golf courses throughout the state and offers spectacular golf at a reasonable price.

For the nature lover, Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile offers a beautiful Azalea trail throughout the month of April. In fact, Bellingrath was recently named the top public rose garden in the nation and will hold the Mobile Society Rose Show on April 22. Alabama offers some of the finest bird trails around, such as the Coastal Birding Trail in Baldwin County and the North Alabama Birding Festival in Huntsville.

Finally, for the showbiz fans, the Mayberry Variety Show will be held at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa on April 21.

During the show, the Alabama Stage and Screen Hall of Fame will induct Alabama native Jim Nabobs, best known for his role as Gomer Pyle on the Andy Griffith show.

As you can see, our state has a wide variety of attractions and activities, including many more that I haven’t mentioned. For more information, go to www.800alabama.com or call 1-800-Alabama.

This spring, stay in Alabama and enjoy all that it has to offer. By doing so, you can help ensure that our schools get better and our homegrown tourism continues to grow for many years to come.