MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) — Madison County is no longer “the secret it was before.” That’s according to Charles Winters, the Executive Vice President of the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The Alabama Tourism Department Agrees. The 2022 Alabama Tourism Economic Report lists Madison County as the number two most visited destination in Alabama for 2022.

Madison County is only behind Baldwin County which offers travel destinations like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach.

The report says 3.9 million people visited Madison County in 2022. That’s a 5.3% increase in visitors over 2021, which previously held the record.

“We have a great quality of life here and it’s a great quality of life to share with anyone and everyone who comes to visit,” Winters said.

Madison County has a lot to offer for visitors. It includes major attractions like the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Orion Amphitheater, Von Braun Center, and more.

News 19 spoke to the Thompson family on Wednesday. Sara Thompson said they are in town visiting from Champaign, Illinois.

Thompson said, “My little sister and her friend are going to Space Camp for their second year in a row.” She said Huntsville was such a draw, that the rest of the family decided to stay in town for the week and explore.

It is visitors like the Thompson family that are contributing to economic growth through tourism in the county.

The Tourism Economic Report lists the economic impact of tourism in 2022 as $2.1 billion dollars. That’s a 20% increase over 2021.

Expenditures from tourists in 2022 helped people who live in Madison County. “Every household in Madison County saved more than $1,200 dollars [in taxes] due to the spending of those visitors,” according to Winters.

Winters said lodging numbers were great for 2022, and he expects an even bigger climb in 2023. “We’re seeing even stronger numbers and growth from those numbers to this year,” he said.

“Lodging receipts are up significantly for the first five months of this calendar year,” he added.

The Alabama Tourism Economic Report says in addition to Madison County, Baldwin, Jefferson, Mobile, and Montgomery were the most visited counties. Those five made up 71.3% of the total number of visitors to the state.

Madison County is also home to Redstone Arsenal as well as defense and space contractors, so it is no surprise business travel was a big driver of a lot of visitors.

The report says, “Seven counties Baldwin, Jefferson, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Shelby, and Tuscaloosa account for 172,326 travel-related workers, which is 72 percent of all travel-generated employment.”

You can read the full report by clicking here.