As we look back on 2011
December 17, 2011
As 2011 began, our tourism industry and our entire community were anticipating a year of recovery and renewal. We worked together with the cities of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, the Chamber of Commerce, the Coastal Resiliency Coalition and our host of outstanding Industry Partners to tell the world we were ready to welcome visitors. We found innovative and creative ways to send our message. We also relied on our tried and true communications methods with our loyal visitors. With all of our best efforts, the stage was set for a new year.
Boy did we put on a show! Our destination has hosted more visitors this year than ever before. Lodging revenues reached new highs, at more than $271million to-date. Summer revenues were 16% higher than 2009 and even exceeded our previous record year of 2007.
Events such as the Hangout Music Festival, the Wharf Concert Series and the National Shrimp Festival proved to be more popular than ever, as well. Events like these, coupled with our variety of attractions and outstanding restaurants, give our valued visitors reasons to come back again and again. They are also a great way to introduce new people to our area.
The work of the Sports Commission proved again this year to be effective in introducing new visitors of all ages to our area. The commission, in no small part to the tremendous efforts of city staff members and sponsor support, hosted 70 events, resulting in more than 48,000 room nights and $7.2 million in room spending this year. Youth sports, high school athletics and college championships were all part of a successful mix of sports events that brought business to our destination. We are confident they also created new fans in the form of repeat visitors for the area.
Southeastern Conference (SEC) fans have shown support this year, as well. Our new endeavor as a corporate sponsor of the SEC has gained tremendous support from throughout the Southeast. Gulf Shores & Orange Beach has been featured in television spots during the SEC Game of the Week throughout the season. We have also had a presence at season opening festivities and at Fanfare as part of the SEC Championship football game. Through these events as well through response to our advertising efforts, we have seen very positive response from SEC fans and officials.
Identifying and fulfilling partnerships like this one is just one of the ways our organization worked in 2011 to bring new opportunities to our Industry Partners and make a positive economic impact for our entire community. This year, like every year, it has been a group effort. Our staff works hard to fulfill our destination marketing mission, from developing marketing plans, to greeting visitors seven days a week, to providing valuable trend data to local businesses. Our accomplishments though, can only be reached with the support and involvement of our Industry Partners and destination leaders. Under the leadership of a dedicated board of directors, I’m proud that our organization has been an important part of the accomplishments and successes of 2011. Once again we have set the stage for a successful new year.