Shoals capitalizing on tourism as it continues to grow state-wide

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LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – Tourism is big business in the state of Alabama. From the white sand beaches to the mountains of north Alabama, tourists spent $15.5 billion in 2018.

Take a tour through the Florence-Lauderdale Visitors Center and you come to understand something, the Shoals as a whole has a lot to offer.

“We know it is a significant industry,” stated Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Director Rob Carnegie. “It is one of the largest employers in our area, and we are continuing to see growth year over year.”

Almost four-thousand jobs in Lauderdale and Colbert counties can be tied directly to tourism. According to the Alabama Tourism Department, travelers spent more than $310 million in the Shoals in 2018.

“We really have so much to offer. Obviously, our music history and the legacy we enjoy and the brand of the community, the Shoals area, owns is in that Muscle Shoals sound,” Carnegie explained.

In recent years, thousands of visitors have toured those musical assets. Combine those studios with the birthplaces of W.C. Handy, Sam Phillips and Helen Keller and people have a reason to stay. There is also a new tourist who is being sought after, the leisure traveler.

“We are doing a 12-month digital campaign in Birmingham, Nashville, Memphis, Atlanta and the greater part of Alabama to attract people here to experience the things that we enjoy every single day,” Carnegie said.

Tourism leaders say the Shoals plays off their diverse background when it comes to tourism, and they are doing their best to get the word out.

According to a state economist, without the taxes collected from tourists in the state, each household in Alabama would have to pay an additional $507 to maintain current service levels by local and state governments.

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