Shelby County Chamber Hosts Tourism Luncheon – Shelby County Reporter

By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff writer

The Shelby County Chamber of Commerce held a special luncheon on Wednesday, July 27 to discuss the county’s tourism revenue for the 2022-2023 fiscal year and related marketing strategies.

At the luncheon, held at the Pelham Civic Complex, guest speaker was Kendall Williams, the county’s tourism and events manager.

During her presentation, she highlighted the Chamber’s top priorities in marketing Shelby County to further encourage outside organizations to choose the county to host various events. She first discussed the issues surrounding Discover Shelby’s former marketing logo, saying it doesn’t showcase the county’s amenities or amenities that draw people to the area.

“We took a step back and asked ourselves, ‘What kind of tourists come here?'” Williams explained.

She went on to say that ideally there are three types of tourists: first, residents are the best ambassadors for spreading what’s new and hot in the county; Second is leisure travelers or people coming to Alabama for a fun weekend; and third are the people who had to come to the area because of a work obligation or to attend a conference or event.

Williams questioned what Shelby County can do to improve those people’s experience while they’re here, which led to the unveiling of the new “Discover Shelby AL” logo. She then highlighted a number of events coming to Shelby County over the next year, including the American Legion baseball tournament, the Buster Britton Memorial Triathlon and the 16th Xterra Mountain Biking Festival, which was canceled last year but in May set to return in 2023.

“So why is this important? Why do we want people to come visit?” she posed. “That’s because we use the lodging tax. The Lodging Tax gives us the opportunity to invest in our own communities and improve the quality of life for our residents. We use our visitors’ funds when they stay at our hotels and we invest them back into the community.”

Williams has broken down lodging tax numbers over the last few years. The fiscal year runs from October to May. Fiscal 2022 saw a 32.2 percent increase in revenue compared to fiscal 2021, while 2022 saw a 15 percent increase over 2019.

Data showed that May 2022 was down $5,000, or 2 percent, from May 2021, but she attributed the drop to a delay in data reporting and the cancellation of Xterra Festival.

“This is a testament that these events are really helping to provide us with more resources to allow our communities to thrive,” she said.

Williams then praised the county’s various parks and various hiking trails, new and old, and their attractive qualities that draw people to the area.

“It’s beautiful,” Williams said of Dunnavant Valley Park. “It really has the true natural feel of Dunnavant Valley surrounding it. I think since we opened you can’t drive by this park without seeing so many cars in this parking lot. It’s been such an asset to the community and people come from all over to see it. There is even a story about a gentleman who saw the park opening, they came and visited, loved the area and actually moved to the area to be closer to the park.”

Williams also announced that the first Discover Shelby Fest will be held on Saturday, October 1st. The event is hosted by the Shelby County Arts Council and sponsored by the Chamber.

“It’s a scalable event that we hope will grow over the years,” Williams said. “We hope to make it a music and wine festival.”

Williams encouraged those interested in boosting tourism by posting on social media and tagging Discover Shelby AL.

For more information about the Shelby County Chamber, visit Shelbychamber.org.

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