In 2022, more than 28.6 million travelers to the state of Alabama spent a record $22.4 billion, contributing 238,741 jobs statewide, reports the Alabama Tourism Department. According to Sports Alabama, sports tourism – a crucial piece of the travel industry pie – produced an estimated $235.45 million last year just among its 12 member destinations.

Sports Alabama President, Don Dukemineer, explains that Alabama’s communities offer planners unique opportunities to host successful events throughout the state due in part of the efforts of local officials to focus on the impact sports tourism creates.

“Alabama’s sports tourism efforts continue to spotlight our expansive capabilities to event rights holders and national governing bodies across the country of our ability to host high caliber events. I’m so proud of our members for showcasing the fabulous facilities, unique attractions and welcoming spirit of Alabama to those who visit every day,” said Dukemineer.

“These numbers highlight our ongoing team effort to attract events and visitors to Alabama, and the evidence is seen in the report where our members numbers continue to increase year over year,” Dukemineer says. “We celebrate our victories in hearing our visitors experience that they cannot wait to return for another visit. Sports tourism opens the doors for Alabama to host championship events, while encouraging visitors to explore our welcoming communities and discover why it’s called Sweet Home Alabama!”

Sports Alabama's member destinations include Auburn-Opelika Tourism, Decatur-Morgan County Tourism, Visit Dothan, The Shoals, Foley Sports Tourism, Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events, Marshall County Tourism & Sports, Explore Rocket City, Visit Mobile and Tuscaloosa Tourism & Sports. From collegiate championships and youth world series to impactful annual road races and watersports, families and fans travel from all over the country to attend events throughout the state and stay to play – leaving even more tourism-based dollars behind.

"Sports tourism is not a trend; it's a staple piece of the overall tourism mix," said Michelle Russ, STS, vice president of sales, sports and events for Gulf Shores | Orange Beach Sports & Events. "Destinations like Gulf Shores and Orange Beach rely on sports travel to balance out our economy, boost the shoulder seasons and maintain year-round tourism-based employment."