UA Center for Economic Development works to drive tourism to West AlabamaBy Beth Wells | 11/12/2015 3:06pm
The University of Alabama Center of Economic Development has partnered with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and Tour West Alabama to boost both domestic and international tourism is the area.
Candace Johnson, the project manager for tourism and community development, said her job is to connect existing assets for economic development in the region. Tour West Alabama serves seven counties: Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Hale, Lamar, Pickens and Tuscaloosa. She said that each of these are ARC counties and saw a “natural partnership.”
“There are a lot of hidden gems in these counties,” Johnson said. “Our job is to put them together in a marketable package.”
Through the partnership, the UACED has produced two publications, the “Visit West Alabama” booklet and the “West Alabama BBQ Trail” brochure. Tour West Alabama will use these at the Travel South International Showcase. Johnson said that at the showcase, they get to sit down one-on-one with 30 tourism operators and present their itineraries.
Johnson said they incorporate a lot of pictures for international tourism, because pictures translate to any language. She said they focus on the art, culinary and historic aspects of the communities because they draw a lot of interest. Many international clients show a lot of interest in the civil war.
Savannah Greer, a junior majoring in public relations and event planning, has been working as Jones’ assistant and helped her on this project.
“It’s really about getting people into West Alabama and showing them what some of the smaller areas have to offer,” she said.