After the dearth of travel in 2020, numbers are beginning to climb again.
Birmingham, Ala. (May 5, 2022) ----- The local travel industry is making a healthy return according to a study commissioned by the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau. The study estimates the economic impact of travel and tourism in Jefferson County in 2021 and is conducted annually for the CVB.
According to the report, visitors spent an estimated $2.2 billion in the county, a 45% increase over 2020 spending totals. The study also found an increase in tourist-generated taxes, with total taxes for the state reported at $253 million. Local government received more than $90 million in taxes produced by tourism in Jefferson County.
“It is encouraging to see travel regaining strength after the crushing blow it took in 2020 when the pandemic shut down entire segments of the industry,” J. John Oros, Jr., CVB president and CEO said. “It was a dark period for so many who depend on tourism for their livelihoods. This rebound is great news not only for employment but also for what travel and tourism contribute to the economy of the county.”
The greater Birmingham area was host to more than 3.6 million overnight visitors throughout 2021. The area’s visitor count grew from a 33% decline in 2020 to a 26% increase in 2021.
“We’re welcoming back travelers in numbers that are becoming comparable to pre-pandemic times,” Oros said. “Events are back on the in-person schedule, and that’s good news. Just look at the two-day sellout at the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama last weekend.”
Tourist spending patterns continued to follow those of past years with transportation topping the list. Dining expenditures came in second, followed by lodging, recreation, and retail.
“It’s not surprising that dining is one of the strongest spending categories,” Oros said. “We heavily market award-winning cuisine and chef-owned restaurants in the greater Birmingham area. Dining experiences remain a list-topper for reasons people travel.”
For two years, the CVB has branded the Birmingham area as the “Dinner Table of the South.” Its culinary reputation has been noted in travel and leisure publications around the country.
“The CVB has a travel media director on staff who regularly hosts journalists from around the world. They come to cover everything from our civil rights history and outdoor activities to real Southern fare and the Southern spin our top chefs put on their signature dishes,” Oros said.
“As we look toward The World Games this summer, we are optimistic that it will impact climbing visitor numbers,” he said. “As long as the economy and consumer confidence remain stable, we expect to emerge from the COVID slump with a strong travel industry intact and growing.”