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Madison County saw record year for tourism in 2021

Totals in earnings, state tax revenue and more increased nearly 1.5x from 2020 numbers

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The Alabama Tourism Department released a report last week saying that the Huntsville-Madison County area welcomed a record 3.7 million people in 2021. The total travelers was just one marker of success for the tourism industry last year.

The 38-page report showed that in almost every statistic, tourism in Madison County saw nearly one-and-a-half times the growth since 2020.

Charles Winters, the executive vice president of the Huntsville Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said the report was an affirmation of the community’s efforts to rebound the early period of the pandemic.

Credit: Alabama Tourism Department
Graphic showing the year-by-year totals in spending by tourists to Alabama from 2012 to 2021 and the percentage increase from the previous year.

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“We all knew that 2020, with the pandemic, was going to be a very challenging year,” he said. “But in 2021, which is what this report covers, we were able to rebound and bounce forward, if you will, back to and eclipsing the numbers from 2019, which was our previous record-setting year.”

Madison was the third-most visited county in the state - behind Baldwin and Jefferson counties - according to the report. The top five counties, which rounded out with Mobile and Montgomery, accounted for 69.6% of the total number of visitors to the state.

Winters says these numbers set a course for even better projections at the end of 2022.

“We saw a substantial increase in leisure travel, outdoor activities, and sporting events, both attendance and participation, and we have yet to see a full return with the government travel market and even the corporate market,” he said. “So as those come back, we're seeing even stronger numbers than last year.”

Credit: Alabama Tourism Department
Graphic showing the four travel regions in the state and their estimated travel-related total expenditures.

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Winters said that the Convention and Visitors Bureau does not have data accrued for this year yet and reminded that its the state’s tourism department that tabulated the numbers. As we move through the dog days of summer, Winters said there’s still much to look forward to, including the 10th anniversary of Huntsville Restaurant Week in August.

“We have over 50 [restaurants] signed up right now, and will also be the main entrée, if you will, for a new campaign that we have: it's Huntsville Culinary Month,” he said. “So the entire month of August, there'll be specials and special events and activities, but Restaurant Week is August 12 through the 21st; That's 10 tasty days for local restaurants.”

For more information on events and other happenings in our area, visit huntsville.org.

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