The Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau, along with the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association and local hospitality partners, held a news conference to announce the 2018 Huntsville/Madison County and North Alabama tourism economic impact report.
There were about 3.3 million visitors to Madison County in 2018, a 6 percent increase. They spent $1.4 billion. Madison is the third-most-visited county in Alabama.
Gov. Kay Ivey on Monday announced at a press conference that one million more people visited Alabama in 2018 than ever before and spent $15.5 billion, which was $1.2 billion higher than the previous year, according to the state’s annual economic impact report produced by Montgomery economist Dr. Keivan Deravi for the Alabama Tourism Department.
The industry attracted more than 27.7 million visitors, which paid $954 million in state and local taxes, saving the average Alabama family $507 from additional taxes to maintain current service levels.
Ivey said on Monday that tourism in Alabama is strong.
"So truly, Alabama has a lot of different variety of types of things to visit and enjoy, and our visitors will continue to come," Ivey said.
People are calling for boycotts in some states, including Alabama, that recently passed abortion laws. However, Ivey and Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell stood firm on Monday in their belief the abortion law won't affect tourism in the state.
"Well, the great thing is the entire state is doing well. Huntsville is up 10 percent," Sentell said. "People like coming here because it's relaxing."
The state says it brought in more than $5 billion in tourism last year, and says we're on track to beat that this year. Time will tell if people boycott the state this summer.
"The bill passed the House and Senate overwhelmingly and the amendments to include exceptions were defeated, so the legislature has spoken and underscores the sanctity," Ivey said.
Right now, the law bans abortion except if a pregnant woman's life is in danger. Representative Terri Collins, who sponsored the bill, told WAAY 31 she wants exceptions for rape and incest to be added to the law after it makes its way through the court system.
Hear what Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle had to say about tourism, here.