Destination Huntsville: Tourism Officials Announce Record Year

Huntsville and Madison County may be gaining dozens of new residents each month, but millions of people took a trip to Rocket City in 2021, according to a recent report from the Alabama Department of Tourism.

Despite maintaining health protocols related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Huntsville-Madison County area has had a robust year for tourism. We welcomed 3.7 million people, an increase of 32% compared to 2020 and 3% compared to 2019.

The Huntsville Botanical Garden is one of Huntsville-Madison County’s top destinations for residents and visitors.

“We are very encouraged that the 2021 numbers have eclipsed our previous record,” said Charles Winters, executive vice president of marketing for the Huntsville/Madison County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “What was a banner year, in 2019, last year just topped it.”

The benefits of tourism to the local economy are myriad, but there’s one that many locals probably don’t realize. Winters said each household saves $1,000 in taxes due to the impact of tourism.

“Our community has so much to offer, and the quality of life that we enjoy as residents is also appreciated by visitors,” he said. “Fortunately, we have a lot of elected officials who understand that having the best facilities you can have not only helps residents, but also attracts visitors who want to visit and potentially live here.”

By the numbers

Here’s a look at the numbers for Huntsville and Madison County’s 2021 tourism totals:

3,708,695

Estimated number of visitors to Madison County in 2021

$1.7 billion

Total economic impact of tourism

21,000

Direct and indirect jobs attributed to travel, tourism and hospitality

$1,000

Amount of Taxes Saved by Each Madison County Household from Travel Spending

When talking about the most visited counties in Alabama, Madison County is now only second to Baldwin County which is home to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. Winters, however, expects 2022 to surpass 2021, especially if pandemic restrictions continue to ease.

“We’re not at the point yet where government and corporate travel has returned, so we expect another big increase when that happens,” he said.

Look forward

Not included in the 2021 figures is Orion’s amphitheaterwhich opened in May 2022. Winters said the venue, which attracts internationally acclaimed artists, will definitely feature in the 2022 totals.

A shot of the Orion Amphitheater stage with many fans all around watching the show.  It is dark and the stage is lit.

The Orion Amphitheater, which opened in May 2022, could help set a new record for tourist revenue next year.

Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle said the tourism numbers didn’t surprise him because Huntsville has several major attractions, including the US Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville Botanical Garden, Monte Sano State Park and The Orion.

“The tourism numbers for 2021 really reinforce what we know to be true – great things are happening here, and people want to be part of it,” he said. “Some people may be sad that our secret is out, but sales and lodging taxes play an important role in our ability to maintain, improve and build our infrastructure. We are grateful to our tourism partners for continuing to tell our story and promote our successes.

Click on here learn more about the Huntsville/Madison County Convention & Visitors Bureau

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