EVERGREEN, Ala. (WKRG) – Alabama Governor Kay Ivey hit the road Wednesday morning to talk tourism and it’s impact on Alabama counties.

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“Our tourism industry it truly is thriving and it’s increased some 47%. Nationally, the tourism industry lost a lot of money,” said Governor Ivey.

She spoke to a crowd at the Conecuh Sausage Gift Shop in Evergreen, going over the latest report released by the Alabama Tourism Department. That report found visitors spent $19.6 billion in Alabama last year. That number is up 47% compared to 2020 spending, according to the data.

“More tourists have come into our state than in a long time. When they come they spend money and that’s a good thing,” she added.

Ivey says those upward trends began in 2021 following a devastating blow to Alabama’s economy during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s not just south Baldwin County businesses seeing those benefits. Governor Ivey tells us throughout the state more people are spending money, even in rural areas like Conecuh County, and combined all of that spending adds up.

“Conecuh Sausage not only makes a good meat product, but they also have a lot of good things for tourists to stop and buy and enjoy as well,” Governor Ivey continued.

Even with tourism numbers increasing across the entire state, the report shows the Gulf Coast region with the highest impact in 2021. Baldwin County and Jefferson County are listed as the largest traveled to counties in Alabama.