Beth Gendler, president and CEO of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism. Gendler says that tourism to Alabama's beaches, after a slow May, has kept up with the record-breaking pace set in 2022. (Photo courtesy Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism)
Beth Gendler has worked on tourism in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach for 21 years. In 2021, she was appointed president and CEO of Gulf Shores and Orange Beach Tourism, the tourism agency for the two beach towns.
Following the coronavirus pandemic, tourism in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach skyrocketed to new highs. In 2021, eight million people visited the Alabama Gulf Coast, according to the city of Gulf Shores website. Here, Gendler discusses how tourism revenue is keeping up with the record-breaking pace, and how the influx of tourists impacts south Baldwin County.
Questions and answers have been condensed and edited for clarity.
We’re still in the peak season of tourism in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach. But we’re past the Fourth of July, really the last holiday we have left is Labor Day. How are things going? How has tourism looked this season?
Surprisingly, well. I will tell you, I think that summer has turned out better than we really anticipated. May was a little down for us, and part of that is we didn’t have a large track event that we have hosted in the past…So that that really hit us in May. Hangout Music Festival was back, but it was maybe not as highly attended as it has been in the past. It was all really just the economy, and we looked at June and July earlier on in the year, because we have forward-looking data which showed us, “Okay, we’ve got to really, really work on some things.”
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