FOLEY - Herb Malone, President & CEO of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, spoke at a recent South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Series, giving the community an update on the impact of …
FOLEY - Herb Malone, President & CEO of Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Tourism, spoke at a recent South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Series, giving the community an update on the impact of tourism in Baldwin County during 2018, beginning with the impressive number of 6.6 million guests who came to the area last year.
“That means 6.6 million people sat around the coffee table or the dinner table and talked about where they were going to go on vacation last year,” said Malone. “The mountains? Take a cruise? Disney? And somewhere along that line, somebody said they should go to the beach.”
Malone said to break the numbers down meant over 2.5 million families visited our area on vacation in 2018, spending $4.7 billion while here. This represents the money that is spent shopping, dining, for entertainment, hotel stays, and at gas stations, and which drives our economy, Malone states. Based on the cash flow, economists are able to determine how many employees it would take to accommodate business in the area, estimating 53,161 employees in the tourism industry are working in Baldwin County. These employees earn approximately $1.6 billion collectively in paychecks and wages.
Taking a look back, these numbers have grown tremendously over the last few decades. In 2000, there were only 3.5 million people visiting Baldwin County on vacation, while in 1996 visitor spending was $963 million with approximately 17,000 tourism related jobs.
Another thing that has grown over recent years is a spike in seasons, though Malone states we do still have slow seasons here even if they’re not as slow as they used to be. The winter months of Dec. - Feb. are still the slowest months, even though there has been an average growth over the last few years. While summer is of course the busiest month, spring and fall have seen good amounts of growth over the last five years, with fall seeing the most annual growth.
Even more than the numbers, Malone says the thing that humbles him most is the fact that though people could vacation anywhere they can afford, they continue to choose to visit Baldwin County.
“Out of all the choices people have, they chose to come here and spend not only their money, but to spend their most precious commodity; their time,” he said.
To keep up with events by the South Baldwin Chamber, check out their website at www.southbaldwinchamber.com.