Thursday, May 24, 2012

Tourism has outperformed the general economy by John Dersham

Last week I attended a conference hosted by Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association. Their guest speaker was renowned travel and tourism consultant, Judy Randall from Randall Travel Marketing in Charlotte N.C.  Judy is well known throughout our industry as a leading voice in forecasting travel and tourism trends. In addition to attending her seminar, I also scheduled a one hour private consultation with her.
Judy spoke about the 2008 economy downturn and its effects on the tourism industry over the four years that have followed. She spoke about the slow recovery we are currently in and how the culture of travel and tourism has changed during this period.
Some of the things Judy mentioned is the fact that tourism as an industry faired extremely well compared to other industries during this period with most southeastern destinations showing numbers that were equal to or better than pre recession numbers. The areas hurt most were the bigger destinations like Disney and Vegas. The lower cost destinations such as North Alabama have weathered the downturn quite well and in our case showed small growth three out of the last four years and were flat one year.  Judy talked about the current trend of travel which includes people traveling less distance and going to lower cost destinations, like us. The desire to travel and have a vacation has increased as people feel stressed at work and they feel they are working longer and harder with incomes that are not growing to match their efforts. This has spawned the desire to take more frequent, shorter vacations usually done over weekends plus a Friday or Monday. Our particular area is extremely conducive to this type of travel since we have 11 million people living within a one tank of gas trip to get here. In fact all of North Alabama fits perfectly into Judy’s forecast of destinations that will show a solid trend toward growth despite high gas prices, time starvation and changing consumer spending habits. Judy said all of the current travel trends in the US favor us. She says our time has come. Judy also said many people are looking for quieter more relaxing get-a-ways to offset their more hectic metro life styles. Again we are a perfect fit. Judy also mentioned that the days of double digit growth are over for the foreseeable future. We are in an economic environment that does not support much growth in any segment. We are moving out of the recession but, very, very slowly and she feels that will continue into the foreseeable future.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

DeKalb Tourism…What we do! By Kayla Worthey

I am sure a lot of you wonder…Who is DeKalb Tourism?, What do they do?, or maybe you have never heard of us before at all. Well, we are a small non-profit organization that was founded more than 50 years ago for the purpose of promoting tourism for DeKalb County. Our office is open to the general public seven days a week. On average we greet anywhere from 10 to 50 visitors a day in the “slow” season and anywhere from 50 to 150 a day in the “busy” season. Our small staff fields emails and phone calls from all over the country, answering questions about our area and fulfilling vacation guide requests.
DeKalb Tourism creates and prints numerous brochures and maps that are distributed throughout the southeast area. We create advertisements for printed publications, such as magazines, newspapers, state guides, etc. We have a website and a mobile website (coming soon!) with multiple domain names that is updated daily with the most current information. We maintain multiple social media sites that are updated daily or weekly. We create press releases regularly and distribute them to media contacts all over the southeast in hopes of generating an article.
We use all of the promotional materials to help lure visitors to this area. If you have a business that is tourism related and would like for us to help promote you, please come by and see us at the Visitor’s Center located at 1503 Glenn Boulevard SW. We are here to support you!
Did you know…
That our website had more than 172,000 unique visitors in 2011?
That our Visitor’s Center greeted over 10,000 people?
That we received over 1,700 phone calls requesting information?
That we received over 9,100 emails requesting more information about this area?
That of those calls and emails, almost 500 of them were interested in the World’s Longest Yard Sale?
That we mailed out almost 3,800 visitor guides to potential visitors?
For more information about us or to keep up with what is going on in the area, you can visit our website at, find us on Facebook at, and read our blog on

The Times Journal is a Fantastic Tourism Promoter and Partner by John Dersham

It has been my pleasure to work closely with the Times Journal from the beginning of my career in tourism here in DeKalb County. Time and time again the Times Journal has reached out to partner with DeKalb Tourism to deliver the amazing story of tourism as a major economic developer for our county. Last year nearly 65 million dollars were paid into the economy of DeKalb County by tourists. This makes Tourism the largest industry in the county for tax revenue. It also ranks as one of the top employers in the county.
The Times Journal has recognized our industry and is always coming up with new ideas to support our local economy through tourism. The latest addition to this effort is an all new 8.5”x5.5” full color publication called the DeKalb County Guide to Dining, Lodging, Attractions and Entertainment. Once complete DeKalb Tourism will make these guides available in our information center and we will pass them out at trade shows. In addition, our two Chamber offices in Fort Payne and Rainsville will have them available, as will the I-59 Welcome Center. This guide is going to serve as an ideal tool for those visitors that have already arrived in our county or are planning a trip here. The guide will be a beautifully produced color book full of where to go, where to eat, and where to stay when here. This guide will highlight your attraction, lodging facility, park, restaurant or entertainment venue.
This undertaking is the first of its kind in DeKalb and it is the first time I have seen this venue used by a newspaper publisher. This will be a real opportunity for your business to help capture your share of tourist dollars spent in DeKalb County. If you are a cabin owner, hotel, campground, restaurant, attraction, antique store, flea market, artist, craftsman, gift shop, produce farmer or any other kind of business that attracts our visitors then I highly recommend buying an ad in this publication. This is your chance to be included in the guide that will be in the visitor’s hands when they are making their buying decisions.
To be included in this guide please contact Sharon Beene at the Times Journal at 256-304-0064 or 256-630-8895. She can also be reached at

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Get Ready, Antique Alley Is Coming by John Dersham

Get Ready, Antique Alley is coming! Beginning on Thursday and running through Sunday May 17-20 Antique Alley Yard Sale hosts its annual event in our area. The yard sale sometimes known as the Highway 11 Yard Sale runs 502 miles along H-11. The two yard sales that pass through our area each year are the two most popular events of which we get calls and emails at the DeKalb Tourism. Antique Alley and the World’s Longest Yard sale in August keep our phones ringing and email inquiries coming year around. H&G TV runs a special on the World’s Longest Yard sale each year. When the show runs we get inquires that are nonstop for a few weeks. These events bring thousands of people through our area each year. This is important to our communities since tourist dollars are spent on food, gas, shopping, attractions and overnight stays in Hotels, campgrounds, B&B’s and cabins. If weather is good we could see as many as 30,000 additional cars coming through our area during the upcoming four day event. Antique Alley runs on H-11 all the way from Meridian Mississippi to Bristol Virginia, it includes five states, 23 counties and 77 towns. In terms of consumer spending the business model works like this; For our traveler to be a tourist they cannot live in DeKalb County. Their travel means they are spending their money in an economy they do not live it, thus paying us taxes, earning us tax revenue we would not get if they were not here. When they are here many of them stay overnight spending $85-150 per night. They buy food $15-150 per day based on family size. They buy gas and retail items at our stores. They go to movies or other entertainment all of which we collect tax dollars adding to the revenue income it our cities, towns and county. For those of you whom have businesses on or near H-11 (Gault Ave) you may want to plan your advertising, promotions and specials to capitalize on the larger number of people available to you at this time. To obtain more information about Antique Alley Yard Sale visit our website and click on yard sales, or call us at DeKalb Tourism 256-845-3957