UMA Chairman celebrates Tour and Travel Week

As part of Tour and Travel Week, the Greater Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau reported had some big news to report. Tourism provided a record impact for Jefferson County, Alabama, last year.

Key to that success was reliable ground transportation, says United Motorcoach Association Chairman Alan Thrasher, who is president of his family’s Thrasher Brothers Trailways in Birmingham. 

In 2023, the Greater Birmingham tourism industry provided $2.52 billion in economic impact, supported 51,550 jobs, and contributed $296 million in state and local taxes. These figures surpass all previous levels of impact generated by tourism in Jefferson County.

Thrasher Brothers Trailways
UMA Chairman Alan Thrasher with leaders and staff of the GBCVB, two state senators, and leaders from surrounding cities.

“Tourism is a leading contributor to our regional economy,” said John Oros, President and CEO of the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It is the common thread that impacts and unites all of our 34 municipalities across Jefferson County.”

Greater Birmingham hosted 3.96 million overnight visitors in 2023, a 4.5% increase over 2022  and the highest count since 2017.

New and established attractions

Major events like the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, the annual meeting of the National Association of Black Journalists, the new Food + Culture festival, and the 60th commemoration of the Birmingham Civil Rights Movement delivered significant new impact. Also, attendance at annual events such as the Children’s of Alabama Indy Grand Prix, Southeastern Conference baseball tournament, Magic City Classic, and Ticketsmarter Birmingham Bowl returned to pre-pandemic numbers, according to Oros.

Thrasher Trailways
Alan Thrasher worked with the CVB to wrap a new Thrasher Trailways Mercedes Tourrider with the “IN Birmingham” promotion.

Visitor spending patterns remained consistent year-over-year, with transportation topping the list. Dining remained the second-highest expenditure, followed by lodging, recreation and retail.

Celebrating Tour and Travel Week, the Greater Birmingham Convention & Visitors Bureau hosted a luncheon with travel professionals, attraction managers, and state politicians at the Ross Bridge Resort, part of the famed Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail.

Thrasher worked with the CVB to wrap a new Thrasher Trailways Mercedes Tourrider with the “IN Birmingham” promotion. The full-body graphic, produced by Budget Truck and Auto, features Barbers Motorsports, home of the world’s largest motorcycle collection, on one side, and Rickwood Field, the nation’s oldest professional baseball park, on the other.

After extensive renovations, Rickwood will host an MLB exhibition game this summer.

Popular destination 

The Convention & Visitors Bureau’s annual economic impact report was conducted by Dr. Keivan Deravi, president of Montgomery-based Economic Research Services Inc.

According to the study, visitors to Jefferson County represent 14% of the total travelers to Alabama, ranking greater Birmingham as the second-largest market for tourism in the state.

“Birmingham is more popular than ever as a destination for business, leisure and sports travel,” said Oros. “Visitors to our region enjoy first-class facilities, rich history, world-class dining and shopping, and a wide range of entertainment options.”

In the United States, the travel and tourism industry created 18 million jobs and generated more than $2.36 trillion in 2023, representing 9.1% of the American economy, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.

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