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ALABAMA TOURISM DIRECTOR CALLS FOR NEW GULF COAST CONVENTION CENTRE posted on: 10/8/2011 10:50:24
USA - The Director of the Alabama Tourism Department, Lee Sentell, has called for a new convention centre to ward off any chance of losing conventions and events to neighbouring Florida.
Sentell said Alabama corporates and associations spend on average US$200-300m each year on meetings at the Sandestin Beach Resort in Florida, due to a lack of large facilities in their home town.
“We need to do something to change that,” Sentell told Economic Development Association of Alabama members at a meeting. He added a new state-run hotel and convention centre on the Alabama Gulf Coast would not only host local conventions and events but provide options for neighbouring states’ associations and corporates.
He cited tourists from Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and east Texas could consider Alabama's Gulf Coast as their own beach.
The Chief Executive of the Alabama Gulf Coast Convention and Visitors Bureau, Herb Malone, said there have been many attempts get the financing for a new facility such as the one called for by Sentell. He noted “legal challenges, hurricanes, the oil spill and economic downturns have kept a new $100m convention and hotel complex from going from the drawing board to construction at the Gulf Shores State Park”.
“Using events to get people back pays off in dividends,” he said, “The word of mouth spreads so rapidly now with social media that if you get people to see what you have, they’re going to spread the word and help you sell it to other people.”