State tourism director Lee Sentell was the keynote speaker at the annual Gulf Coast Tourism Summit in Gulf Shores on Tuesday. Staff members Marilyn Stamps and Edith Parten also attended the annual tourism summit that focused on tourism marketing.
From the article “Alabama beaches expecting strong summer” by Ryan Dezember in the May 20 edition of the Press-Register:
Summer vacation season opens this weekend, and Alabama’s beaches are better situated than most areas to weather the economic downturn, predicted state and local tourism officials at their annual summit Tuesday. Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau President Herb Malone said that national polling suggests that people still plan on traveling this summer, but will do so more frugally, choosing nearby family-friendly destinations over more elaborate escapes. “All those things play into our favor as a value-oriented, drive destination,” Malone told about 250 representatives of the beach’s tourism trade. For the first time in five years, AAA, the motorists’ association, predicted an uptick in Memorial Day weekend traffic. And after nine months of condominium occupancy rates falling short of the marks set during the same month the prior year, April’s 35.3 percent occupancy rate was substantially higher than the 25.8 percent rate in April 2008. “Bottom line is, people are still going to travel,” Malone said. “In stressful times people want to escape the stresses of everyday life.”
Ed Evans, general manager of The Beach Club, said that the Fort Morgan resort has booked almost all of its 330 condo units for the long weekend, but did so only recently. “It’s a lot of last-minute stuff,” he said. Marie Curren, director of marketing and reservations for Brett/Robinson, said that both of her firm’s hotels are full for the weekend and the occupancy rate for the 2,057 condominiums it manages is 2 percent higher, in the high 70s, than on last Memorial Day weekend.
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