The secret is out: Gulf Shores and Orange Beach most visited attraction in 2020

By Melanie LeCroy / melanie@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 5/26/21

Each year millions of visitors head to the sugar white sands and tranquil blue waters of the Alabama Gulf Coast. During the pandemic when many locations were shutdown and families were working and …

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The secret is out: Gulf Shores and Orange Beach most visited attraction in 2020

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Each year millions of visitors head to the sugar white sands and tranquil blue waters of the Alabama Gulf Coast. During the pandemic when many locations were shutdown and families were working and schooling from home Gulf Shores and Orange Beach were the most visited tourist attraction in the state of Alabama. According to state officials, 6.1 million people visited our shores.

A few other attractions in our area also received recognition. The U.S.S. Alabama was sixth on the list of paid attractions with 188,652 visitors and Bellingrath Gardens and Home placed seventh with 119,932 visitors in 2020. 5 Rivers Delta Resource Center placed fifth in the Free Attractions category with 45,000 visitors in 2020.

Our area also had some of the Top 10 Events in 2020. Before the onset of the pandemic, more than an estimated 1.2 million people attended Mobile’s Mardi Gras making it the most popular event in 2020. Fairhope’s 32nd Annual Jubilee Festival came in third while the Orange Beach Festival of Art was sixth.

The tourism department’s 2020 “Year of” campaign centered on Alabama’s Natural Wonders, highlighting some of the unique characteristics of the state’s landscape including Gulf beaches, Mount Cheaha and Cathedral Caverns. Visitors experienced each of these points of interest in one of Alabama’s State Parks where they are protected public lands.

“We know our parks offer some of the most beautiful natural scenery anywhere in the world,” said State Parks Director Greg Lein. “We’re also proud that our parks offer activities and attractions that promote safe recreation while social distancing. That’s a unique blend that explains why so many people visited the parks in 2020, and we hope it continues in 2021 and beyond.”

The Alabama Tourism Department works to inspire consumers and facilitate travel to and within Alabama while leveraging increased involvement by the private sector. An appointed board of industry advisors connects the department with tourism businesses and organizations throughout the state. Tourism is a key sector of the state's economy, historically attracting 28 million tourists who spend $16.8 billion in leisure and hospitality sales and employing more than 200,000 full and part-time workers. The industry represents 7% of Alabama's private sector employment. Leisure and hospitality also generates in excess of $1 billion of the state's sales tax revenues.