State tourism wins national award

The Alabama Tourism Department’s focus on small towns last year has been honored as best promotion by the National Council of State Tourism Directors.

State tourism director Lee Sentell accepted the award Tuesday night at the U.S. Travel Association’s Educational Seminar for Tourism Organizations (ESTO) conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.  “The great cooperation from so many community leaders across the state made last year’s campaign such a success. I am so proud of our staff and ad agency for creating our most ambitious campaign ever,” said Sentell.  

This is the third time in the last six years the Alabama Tourism Department has won the top award.  Previous awards went to the “Year of Alabama Food” and the “Year of Alabama Arts.”  Sentell was a featured speaker at the conference and was a finalist for state tourism director of the year which was won by George Zimmerman of Michigan.

The “Year of Alabama Small Towns and Downtowns” promoted the unique charm and hospitality of Alabama communities to visiting tourists.  The state tourism agency donated a historic marker to each of the 215 towns that held a special homecoming celebration or festival during the year.  Staff members Marilyn Jones Stamps and Brian Jones edited the historic marker text and ordered the markers.  Tommy Cauthen produced calendars for the campaign.  Luckie & Company advertising agency in Birmingham created ads and commercials for the promotion.

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