Tourism Numbers on the Rise

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Whether it’s the fishermen or conventions flocking to the Shoals area, hotel rooms are filling up.

With so many areas struggling to bring tourists into the southeast, tourism numbers in Lauderdale County are shooting through the roof.

“We knew it was going to be a significant increase, but for it to be over 17% in a year that there was still recovery, 2011 was still considered a recovering economy, we were delighted,” says Debbie Wilson, the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Director.

Wilson believes that the cost of fuel played a role in the rise of tourism dollars.

She also thinks that people wanted to take shorter trips, which were closer to home.

“We are sitting two hours from Nashville, two hours from Birmingham, five hours from Atlanta, and two hours from Memphis,” Wilson said. “So we have a really big, large pool of people to draw from.”

Through research, Wilson points out that the average distance people are travelling to the Shoals is about four hours.

According to Wilson, it’s not hard to sell the Shoals as a tourist or convention destination.

“I think 2012 is going to be game-busters. I don’t know if we can top 17.5%, but we are going to try,” Wilson said.

In fact February 2012 was one of the largest months in recent history for visitors coming into the Shoals.

Lauderdale County collected more than $850,000 in lodging taxes for 2011, 17.5% over 2010 and 28% over 2009.

That money is put back into advertising and operational costs for the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Office.

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