Visitors to Alabama — numbering roughly 27.7 million people — spent more than $15.5 billion in 2018. Total visitor spending was up an impressive 8.5 percent from the year before, and 2019 totals are expected to lengthen that winning streak.
Such growth requires thought and planning, which is a goal for the 2020 Alabama Recreational Trails and Tourism Conference being held in Gulf Shores next month. The event is aimed at those who plan, design, build and maintain recreational trails of all kinds in Alabama. Conference-goers may work for private business, governmental organizations, or be affiliated with volunteer groups that partner with public landowners to implement and steer trail projects.
It’s an opportunity to learn best practices in all areas of trail development and operation and will emphasize regional connectivity and accessibility of trails, according to Brian Rushing, of the University of Alabama. Rushing is director of Economic Development Initiatives for the Center for Economic Development, which is presenting the event.
“While the outdoor recreation industry in Alabama is large and we have great trail facilities in many places, we believe there is considerable untapped potential for trail development that will benefit Alabama’s quality of life and economic vitality through trail tourism. This conference will be the first that the Alabama Trails Commission has held in five years and it will bring together the leadership of Alabama’s trails community to advance the next generation of recreational trails in our state,” he says.
The conference will be held Feb. 5-7 at the Lodge at Gulf State Park and is limited to 200 participants. The deadline to register is Jan. 27 and the cost is $195.
Besides outdoor workshops featuring biking, hiking and canoe trails, a Thursday keynote address will be delivered by Tony Hull, a nonmotorized transportation consultant with two decades of experience in planning, designing and evaluating transportation projects.
Learn more and register at: uaced.ua.edu/2020-artc.html.