Governor Robert Bentley today announced the approved projects that will receive BP tourism promotion funds. On March 8, he announced that BP would provide $16 million to promote tourism events and travel along the Alabama Gulf Coast. The projects receiving promotion funds are as follows: $3.5 million for television advertising; $1.5 million for the Wharf concert series; $1.5 million for the Hangout Music Festival; $2 million for concert promotions on the Gulf Coast; $800,000 for advertising on an upcoming nationally broadcast television show about the construction of the nation’s first Green Zoo; $300,000 for incentives to bring conventions to Mobile; $350,000 for the development of a pilot program which will bundle admission tickets for various attractions along the Coast such as Bellingrath Gardens, Dauphin Island Ferry, Dauphin Island Estuarium and the Exploreum; $200,000 for U.S. Davis Cup exhibition match; $50,000 for the Blessing of the Fleet in Bayou La Batre; $250,000 for Music between the Waves concert series on Dauphin Island; $150,000 for “Dive In, the Water is Great!” which is related to deep sea fishing events; and $200,000 to bring the U.S. Olympic Trials for both Junior and U.S. Olympic Boxing Trials Masters to the Gulf Coast. The money granted will be dispersed now through the 1st quarter of 2012. The remainder of the $16 million will be distributed over the next two years.
“Alabama was hardest hit of all the Gulf Coast states by last year’s BP Oil Spill, said Bentley. “Alabama will use these funds to promote tourism to our Gulf Coast communities as that we can begin to recoup the losses suffered since the disaster.” The $16 million BP grant is specifically designated for promotion of tourism for Baldwin and Mobile counties, the two counties hit hardest by last year’s loss of tourism following the oil spill. As part of the agreement, Lee Sentell of the Alabama Tourism Department will administer the grant funds with the aid of an advisory commission. “Working together, this outstanding group put the needs of the entire state first so that any event or project under consideration was vetted to ensure the funds would net the highest return possible. We received numerous requests and spent many weeks working through them to ensure that the event or project met the terms of our tourism agreement and would be the best use of the funds to bring more tourists to Mobile and Baldwin Counties,” said Sentell. There is more recognition now than ever before that the coastal counties and cities can create more of a positive impact working in a combined and organized method so we incorporated a regional tourism program as much as possible.”
Members of the advisory commission are Marion Laney, West Bay & Gulf Coast Tourism Council, Inc.; Bill Barrick of Bellingrath Gardens; Tim Russell, Baldwin County Probate Judge; Herb Malone, Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism; Melissa Morrissette, Mobile Area Association of Realtors, Sheila Hodges of Meyer Real Estate.