Report: Black Belt has economic impact of $3.8 billion

Tourism doubled between 2020 and 2023

Alabama’s Black Belt is home to a wide range of outdoor recreational activities, including kayaking on Alabama’s abundant waterways. Photo courtesy of Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association.

Tourism in Alabama’s 23-county Black Belt region generated an annual economic impact of $3.8 billion in 2023 and accounted for 45,500 direct and indirect jobs, according to a new report commissioned by the Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association.

Tourism in the area roughly doubled between 2020 and 2023 — growing from $1.9 billion in 2020.

The report, produced by Dr. Keivan Deravi of Economics Research Services Inc., highlights that the direct and indirect payroll for jobs related to tourism in 2023 reached $1.25 billion, an 8% increase over 2022 figures. The state and local governments received $219 million in taxes from Black Belt tourism.

Hunting and fishing accounted for $1.7 billion in annual economic impact, representing nearly half of all tourism spending in the Black Belt.

“Having grown up in the heart of the Black Belt in Wilcox County, I understand this region has so much to offer — from outdoor recreation like hunting and fishing to world-changing cultural events, talented artisans and crafters and historic sites,” said Gov. Kay Ivey. “I’m excited to see the growth of the tourism industry in the Black Belt.”

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The report showed that all 23 of the counties in the region experienced tourism growth since 2020.

“Alabama’s Black Belt attracts visitors for a wide variety of reasons, led by outdoor recreational activities like hunting, fishing, birding, hiking and camping,” said Pam Swanner, director of Alabama Black Belt Adventures Association. “The Black Belt is also blessed with cultural events and festivals, such as the Airing of the Quilts in Gee’s Bend, as well as many historical landmarks. Throw in a lively art and food scene, and it’s easy to see why so many people are traveling our scenic back roads year-round.”

The Black Belt includes the following counties: Barbour, Bullock, Butler, Choctaw, Clarke, Conecuh, Crenshaw, Dallas, Greene, Hale, Lee, Lowndes, Macon, Marengo, Monroe, Montgomery, Perry, Pickens, Pike, Russell, Sumter, Tuscaloosa and Wilcox.

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