(Note from Brian Jones: The National Council of State Tourism Directors gave the Mercury Award for Best State Tourism Campaign in the Nation to the Alabama Tourism Department for the original Year of Alabama Food in 2005.)
From the article “Alabama tourism chief: Food will key 2012 campaign to bring in visitors” by Michael Tomberlin in The Birmingham News:
This year, it was music. Next year, it will be food. Again. Lee Sentell, director of the Alabama Tourism Department, says the state’s 2012 tourism campaign will be “The Year of Alabama Food.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because 2005 carried the same theme and each year since the campaigns have had a component of that in them. Sentell told the members of the Economic Development Association of Alabama at that organization’s summer conference at the Perdido Beach Resort that food defines the state so much and its lists of “things you must eat before you die” resonate with tourists. Food won’t be the only point of the state’s 2012 tourism push, he said. Continuing efforts to bring tourists to the state’s beaches will be a key component, as will be pushing events like the races at the Talladega Superspeedway and the Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park near Leeds. Of special significance this year will be the 20th anniversary of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail, Sentell said. Tourism was a $9 billion industry in Alabama in 2010, a year where the Gulf of Mexico oil spill kept many tourists away from the beaches. Nearly 6.8 million visitors stopped at Alabama’s “Welcome Centers” on its interstate connections in neighboring states. Tourism put $550 million in state and local tax coffers last year.
For the complete article please see http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2011/08/alabama_tourism_chief_food_wil.html.