According to data released recently by the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB), families continued to travel in record numbers to Alabama’s Beaches, which resulted in several positive summer figures. Condominium occupancy reached 79.5 percent for the month of July 2009, which was a 3 percent increase over the previous comparative period of July 2008 (76.3 percent). “This figure is staggering considering that we have welcomed aboard 713 additional condominium units since July 2008, and we – along with all area businesses – have worked tirelessly to fill these units,” Herb Malone, CVB president/CEO. “To have expanded our inventory and produced a 3 percent gain in this economy, it an outstanding feat.”
The positive news comes as these additional filled units resulted in more tax income for one coastal city. The City of Orange Beach set two all-time monthly records by collecting the highest city lodging and retail tax revenue figures in the city’s 25 year history. “The City of Orange Beach can confirm that a record number of tourists set foot in the sand during July as our top two tax generators, sales and lodgings reached a record peak,” said Ken Grimes, city administrator of the City of Orange Beach. “We maintained our high level of service to our residents and visitors while working on a bare bones budget, which is still off pace during some tough economic times.” In July 2009, the city processed $1.4 million in lodging rental tax, which is up 5.2 percent over the previous comparative period of July 2008. Also, the city collected $1.01 million in July 2009 retail sales tax, which is a 13.5 percent increase over July 2008. (Note: July 2009 data for the City of Gulf Shores has not yet been reported).
“These outstanding numbers show that the travel experts were correct in their summer forecasts,” said Malone. “While some media reports constantly focused on the economic situation and attempted to raise concerns that people would not travel, this data shows what we already knew. Vacations are the special moments in life where families can leave the stresses and strains of everyday life behind and reconnect with their loved ones. We are thankful that our guests choose to return each year to our 32 miles of relaxing sugar white sand.” Recording all-time high numbers did not happen by accident. “First of all, we need to thank our loyal families who chose to reconnect with their loved ones in the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach area,” Malone said. “Our extensive print and internet marketing campaign resulted in 15,000 July inquiries to our hospitality and information department, which is an increase of 10,000 over last July.” Also, the Alabama Gulf Coast Sports Commission (which is a partnership between the local chamber, CVB and two island cities) hosted several USSSA baseball and softball events during July, including two World Series tournaments that attracted more than 10,000 additional people to the island.
Adding to those contributing factors is the $1.95 million economic impact generated by the Student Life group that held its summer camp for more than 12,000 youth at The Wharf. The sales department at the CVB worked closely with The Wharf and area lodging businesses to grow this camp to its current level. “This success is a direct result of a team effort from the city governments, CVB, local chamber and all business sectors, such as lodging, restaurants, retail, attractions, fishing and golf,” Malone added. “With a strong partnership from all parties, we are looking forward to welcoming many more guests to our area during the fall and winter seasons.” www.gulfshores.com