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 http://tourism.alabama.gov/reports/ to download a pdf copy.
For more information on Morgan County tourism figures, contact Gibson at 800.524.6181 or 256.350.2028.