What a difference a year makes
The region's tourism sector continues to improve—nowhere more so than along the Alabama Gulf Coast, especially when we consider where we were last year on Independence Day:
The Mobile Press-Register's report from the Alabama coast on July 4, 2010, contained this passage:
"The sun shone, the sand glistened and the water was pleasant Sunday at Dauphin Island's public beach. There was only one thing missing from this otherwise perfect 4th of July: People.
"On the 76th day of the ongoing oil spill disaster, only a couple dozen visitors were at the beach at 1:30 p.m. on what is usually one of the busiest days of the summer."
The Associated Press coverage from the Alabama coast on July 4, 2011, contained this report:
"State officials are expecting a big week for tourism along Alabama's coast. … Promoters say almost all of the 17,000 condominiums and hotels in southern Baldwin County are full through the Fourth of July.
"The area's 2,500 camp sites also are occupied, and many guests are staying through next weekend."
More broadly, our contacts in the leisure and hospitality sector throughout the region continue to convey positive reports. From Miami Beach to Dollywood, tourist activity is up. As noted above, beachgoers are visiting the coasts. Attendance at festivals in Tennessee and New Orleans is well up from year-ago levels. The Federal Reserve's last Beige Book report from the Atlanta District noted that:
"Tourism activity improved further throughout the District. Occupancy and room rates were boosted by increases in both business and leisure travel. Convention and cruise bookings have increased as well. Overall, contacts in the travel industry remained optimistic."
The bottom line? People are taking vacations and spending at healthy levels.
By Mike Chriszt, an assistant vice president in the Atlanta Fed's research department
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