Tourism booming in the Shoals - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Tourism booming in the Shoals

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)

The state's tourism department reports visitors spent $238 million in Lauderdale County alone in 2016, which is a 4.8 percent increase in traveler spending.

Tourism officials said the music, river and history is constantly drawing people to the area.

"We really have it all. We have great attractions, good accommodations and we have this visitor center, so Florence and the Shoals is really a happening place," said Alison Stanfield, director of operations with Florence-Lauderdale Tourism.

"Its a beautiful little town. I look forward to seeing the rest of it," said Thomas Whelchel.

Thomas and his wife made the trip from Huntsville for a day to check out what the Shoals has to offer. They especially enjoyed the history displayed throughout town.

"It is chalk full of them. I mean, I noticed when I was riding around there are these historical markers everywhere you look. In fact, I like to take pictures of them and read them later. There was just so many of them, I couldn't do it," Whelchel said.

Tourism also is responsible for more than 2,828 jobs last year.

On Thursday, hotel employees toured some must-see spots to tell visitors who come from all over.

"We cover so many different subjects. We have our fashion icons Billy Reid and Natalie Chanin. Wee have the music studios. We have WC Handy's birthplace, Frank Lloyd Wright for architecture, Popes Tavern, which really covers our history, the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, and of course, the inspirational story of Helen Keller, so we really have something that’s going to peak everyone's interest," Stanfield said.

Friday is a visitor appreciation day at McFarland Park from noon until 4 p.m. There will be showings of the movies "Muscle Shoals" and "Miracle Worker," and anyone is welcome to come.

In June, the Children’s Museum will also be reopening.

The top five counties in which tourists spent the most is as follows:

  • Baldwin County - $4.2 billion
  • Jefferson County - $1.9 billion
  • Madison County - $1.2 billion
  • Mobile County - $1.1 billion
  • Montgomery County - $814 million

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