From the editorial “For a vacation, it is sweet home Alabama” by Rep. Alan Harper in The Northport Gazette. For the complete editorial see
Summer is certainly here, along with its constant heat and humidity. The weather has many of us thinking about vacation, yet with the economy as it is and gas prices starting their annual summer increase, we are thinking less about going great distances and instead looking for spots much closer to home. Everyone already knows that Alabama is blessed with lakes and beaches, the two things that can help beat the heat. There are great state parks across the state right on the water that make for great affordable family vacations, as well as parks in the mountains and forests that offer terrific getaways. Another great Alabama vacation theme is to take a trip into our state’s history.
The Alabama Tourism Department has labeled 2009 the “Year of Alabama History,” and has done a terrific job listing and promoting the hundreds of historical events and places in our history-rich state. The department’s Alabama history tourism website says it best. “Etched in the cornerstone of our American heritage, you will discover Native American, Civil War and Civil Rights history, as well as a proud heritage in music, sports and aviation in Alabama. In fact, everywhere you travel along our Southern soil – from the state’s birthplace in Huntsville to Birmingham, our largest city, to historic Montgomery and on down to the coastal plains, you will see history reflected in pine-rimmed rivers, flowing from lofty mountaintops, captured in old homes, and echoing from the shadows of mammoth caves.”
The history-tourism website is easy to use (the website address is
listed below), and has an amazing array of historical festivals,
events, and places that are sure to attract the history buff and the
regular vacationer alike. Using history as a way to build a vacation is
nothing new; Boston and Philadelphia have built an entire industry on
just that. It is terrific that we can now do the same thing right here
in Alabama. History is just one of the many vacation ideas the Alabama
Tourism Department has developed, bringing the state’s wonderful
vacation possibilities together in their Sweet Home Alabama campaign.
On their website and in their published materials, the department
highlights hundreds of other vacation ideas for all kinds of families
and folks: things for the kids, ideas for the sports fan, places for
the best food, and events for the best music. For more information, go
online to www.alabama.travel, or if computer access is a problem give
them a call at 1-800-ALABAMA.
Not only will you save money by traveling within the state, but by
taking an instate vacation you’ll be supporting our local economy and
even our schools. Every dollar spent on tourism in Alabama helps
creates jobs in the state and generates tax revenue. Last year alone,
more than 22 million people vacationed in Alabama and spent nearly $9.6
billion. Those visitors also paid $702 million in state and local
lodging and sales taxes, according to state officials. State sales
taxes are earmarked for the Education Trust Fund, and go to support
Alabama’s classrooms. The Alabama tourism industry has been growing.
Over the 10 year period from 1998 to 2008, travel spending in Alabama
has increased a whopping 77 percent. The increase is a testament to a
concerted effort by thousands of communities to grow the industry, from
major developments like the Retirement Systems of Alabama’s Robert
Trent Jones Golf Trail, to local events like the dozens of music
festivals across the state. Vacation is a time to get away from home.
But this summer, Sweet Home Alabama is our best bet for a terrific