Wednesday, May 22, 2019

State Economic Impact Report Reveals 20% Increase in Tourism in Morgan County

Travelers spent $252 million and were responsible for 2,711 jobs last year in Morgan County, according to a report conducted for the Alabama Tourism Department. That figure represents a 20.3 percent increase in traveler spending on hotels, restaurants, shopping and transportation. Annual state lodging taxes collected in Morgan County in 2018 reached over $1.2 million, up 20.3 percent from 2017. New conferences and an increase in fishing and sport tournaments are contributing factors to the consistent growth in tourism in Morgan County.

Decatur Morgan County Tourism President/CEO Danielle Gibson stated “We are excited to learn more visitors made a choice to spend time in Morgan County last year. Several factors contributed to the 20.3 percent increase in visitor spending. An increase in fishing and sport tournaments, new meetings and conferences, affordable lodging, festivals that appeal to all ages and a thriving downtown district helped drive more visitors to Morgan County in 2018. Decatur Morgan County Tourism has also taken steps to increase engagement with target audiences by increasing its social media presence and pumping more advertising dollars into digital campaigns and consumer shows.”

In 2018, travel-related total expenditures in Morgan County reached $252,566,773, up from $210 million in 2017. Lodging tax collection broke the million-dollar mark for the second time in Morgan County. In 2018, lodging tax collected reached $1,267,414, up 20.3 percent from 2017 ($1,053,185). “These figures indicate that tourism is an important economic driver for our county and state and we would not realize this success without the partnerships we have established with our accommodations, restaurants, merchants, Decatur Parks and Recreation, elected officials and other local organizations,” said Gibson.

Travel-related earnings showed a 24.5 percent increase from $52,240,371 in 2017 to $65,046,434 in 2018, and 2,711 individuals were employed directly and indirectly in the tourism industry, an 18.5 percent growth over 2017. “Providing job opportunities for more than 2,700 individuals, and with an estimated $65 million in payroll income, the tourism industry is an important employment sector for Morgan County. The numbers reflect the power of the county’s collaboration efforts between civic, government and business who are all working together to create and sustain new jobs, drive visitor spending, enhance the visitor experience and generate tax revenues,” added Gibson.

The tourism and travel industry generates millions of dollars for state and local government each year. The Alabama travel industry grew by $1.2 billion in 2018 to a record of $15.5 billion in expenditures. It is estimated that more than 27.7 million people visited the state during 2018 and an estimated 198,890 jobs were directly or indirectly attributable to the travel and tourism industry. In 2018, more than $954 million of state and local tax revenues were generated by travel and tourism activities. Without those taxes, each household in Alabama would have had to pay $507 in additional taxes to maintain current service levels.

The report, Economic Impact 2018, was conducted for the Alabama Tourism Department using a model created by Dr. Keivan Deravi, an economist in the School of Business at Auburn University Montgomery. The purpose of the study is to estimate the economic impact of the travel and tourism industry in Alabama for 2018 and includes information on the number of jobs attributed to tourism, spending and revenue figures and the most visited counties. Information sources used to prepare this report included primary data, detailed monthly lodging tax data, copies of previously commissioned economic impact studies, and other relevant information and publications.

For the complete report, go to to download a pdf copy.

For more information on Morgan County tourism figures, contact Gibson at 800.524.6181 or 256.350.2028.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Meet the Board Monday

We are extremely blessed at DMCT to have such a wonderful, supportive board. This year, we've decided to highlight a board member in each newsletter and on our blog, This month we would like to highlight Ronnie Dukes. 

Ronnie was born on October 12, 1948, to Bill J. and Juanita Dukes. His family moved to Decatur in 1957. He graduated from Decatur High School in 1966 and graduated from the University of Alabama in January 1971 with a BA in Business. 

He was a member of the Alabama Army National Guard from January 1971 -January 1977 and started working the First National Bank of Decatur in March 1972. The bank later became AmSouth Bank.

In1985 he left the bank to begin working for Pepsi Cola Decatur a local owner franchise, owned by Rodger Shabel. 

 He is a member of several boards and civic clubs. These include Rotary Club of Decatur, Decatur Lions Club, Decatur Morgan County Tourism Board, Decatur Park and Recreation Board and the Decatur Morgan Hospital Foundation Board. 

Ronnie is an active member of First United Methodist Church of Decatur where he serves as head of ushers and Chair of the Finance Committee.

He is married to Vicki Thornton Dukes and together they have two children and four grandchildren. 

We are so thankful to have Ronnie on our board and look forward to another prosperous year together! 

Monday, January 14, 2019

Meet the Board Monday

We are extremely blessed at DMCT to have such a wonderful, supportive board. This year, we've decided to highlight a board member in each newsletter and on our blog, We couldn't think of anyone better to start with than the 2018/2019 DMCT Board Chairwoman, Christy Richardson!

Christy Richardson was born and raised in Decatur, Alabama and has been in the legal field for over 22 years now. She graduated from Decatur High School in 1992, and then went on to receive degrees from Calhoun Community College and Athens State University. At the urging of a dear friend, she decided to continue her education and go to law school. After law school, she joined the law firm of Lentz Whitmire, House & Propst, the firm she had worked for as a legal assistant prior to and while attending law school. She joined Calvin McBride in March 2016, and her practice is now focused primarily on real estate and probate matters.

She has been married to her husband, Ashley, for 20 years and they have two beautiful children, Alex who is 10 and Isla Grace who is 6. I love Decatur and Morgan County, and she is very committed to seeing this community grow and thrive. In addition to being the Board Chairwoman with Decatur Morgan County Tourism, she is the Vice-President of the Board of Directors for the Rotary Club of Decatur and is on the Affiliate Counsel for the Morgan County Association of Realtors. She is past President of the Decatur Jaycees and a past board member of the American Red Cross and the Morgan County Chamber of Commerce. She and her husband are members of First Bible Church in Decatur where they serve as kindergarten teachers. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and staying actively involved in her children’s school and sporting events. You can find her most evenings on the soccer fields or in the dance studio.

We are so thankful to have Christy on our board and look forward to another prosperous year together!