Alabama is known for some of the darkest days during the Civil Rights Movement, but instead of denying the past the state has embraced it — recognizing the faults and celebrating those who had the courage to fight for civil liberty.
Earlier this week, the Alabama Tourism Department took home an International Travel and Tourism Award for Best Regional Destination for its marketing campaign of the U.S. Civil Rights Trail, which covers 14 states. This was the first time a U.S. state tourism department has ever won the honor.
“This is an amazing honor,” said Alabama Tourism Director Lee Sentell, who accepted the award at the World Travel Market in London, one of the industry’s largest and most prestigious trade shows.
Alabama was up against finalists from all over the world, including Barcelona, Pradesh in India, the Canary Islands and Brabant in the Netherlands.
Birmingham ad agency Luckie & Co. created the U.S. Civil Rights Trail campaign, which links museums, churches and other African American landmarks.
Alabama had led the organization of the trail two years ago in partnership with TravelSouth USA, based in Atlanta, and the National Park Service. The trail is a result of research to nominate civil rights landmarks as World Heritage Sites. Almost a fourth of the civil rights landmark sites on the trail are in Alabama.
In Alabama, the Civil Rights Trail includes the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, where Bloody Sunday took place, the sites where Rosa Parks started the bus boycott, where Martin Luther King Jr. spoke of freedom, and the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church. The trail also includes the base where the Tuskegee Airmen were trained for military combat.
This is the second major award the tourism department has won in the past two months. Six weeks ago, the agency won its sixth Mercury Marketing Award in 12 years from the U.S. Travel Association. It was also presented for the Civil Rights Trail campaign.